RAN welcomes the announcement, calls for accelerated action to end deforestation for palm oil and advance rights-based protection and restoration of the Leuser Ecosystem
Today, Musim Mas, one of the world’s largest palm oil conglomerates, responded to consumer pressure over its ties to deforestation by issuing a 5 year strategy designed to finally achieve ‘No Deforestation, No Peatland, No Exploitation’ (NDPE) compliance by its suppliers across the province of Aceh in Indonesia where the globally important Leuser Ecosystem is located. Musim Mas is the only agribusiness giant that has had its operations verified as compliant with the Palm Oil Innovation Group’s benchmark for responsible palm oil production, but the company has continued to be exposed to controversial practices via its suppliers of palm oil from across Indonesia. Since 2014, RAN has exposed deforestation, peatland destruction, sourcing of illegal palm oil and unresolved land conflicts in its third party supply chain and has documented its failure to effectively implement its NDPE policy across the Leuser Ecosystem and throughout the province of Aceh.
Gemma Tillack, RAN’s Forest Policy Director issued the following statement:
“The publication of Musim Mas’s Strategy for Aceh is a positive step forward and demonstrates a high level of commitment by Musim Mas towards achieving a responsible supply chain in Aceh. It also showcases how much work still needs to be done to improve the practices of the palm oil sector across the region to meet global expectations for responsible palm oil production.
“Instead of turning its back on palm oil suppliers in Aceh, Musim Mas is scaling up its efforts to support palm oil mills, producers, and smallholders alike to end deforestation and the destruction of lowland rainforests, the Tripa, Kluet and Singkil peatlands, uphold human rights, improve livelihoods, and achieve verified compliance with its sustainability policy.
“RAN continues to publish evidence showing that forests continue to fall in the lowland rainforests of the Leuser Ecosystem. As a matter of urgency, Musim Mas must demonstrate the effectiveness of its forest and peatland monitoring and response systems and engage with rogue producers to end rainforest destruction for palm oil.
“The identification and protection of remaining High Conservation Value (HCV) areas and High Carbon Stock (HCS) forests––critical carbon sinks and habitats for Sumatran orangutans, elephants, rhinos and tigers––and areas with cultural values remains of paramount importance. Musim Mas’s commitment to support landscape-level HCV-HCS mapping, and stakeholder collaboration to reduce deforestation and peatland development inside the Leuser Ecosystem while contributing to improved livelihoods of communities, holds promise.
“Achieving a rights-based approach to tackling deforestation and illegal production of palm oil in existing protected areas will not be simple, but will set important precedents if done in a meaningful way with rightsholders, civil society organizations, the palm sector and industry bodies, and governments at district, provincial and national levels.”
The Leuser Ecosystem provides food and water for millions of people. Generations depend on this uniquely biodiverse forest ecosystem for their livelihoods and have done so for millennia as it is the customary lands of communities who have fought for over a century to protect its integrity. Deforestation has also threatened nearby communities with catastrophic flash flooding, and human-wildlife conflicts ––human-made disasters that have become too common in regions of Indonesia that have been developed for Conflict Palm Oil.
Rainforest Action Network will continue to expose those responsible for destruction of the Leuser Ecosystem and hold Musim Mas to account for the implementation of its Aceh strategy.