February 10, 2020

Palm oil firm’s NDPE in Leuser Ecosystem deserves support

JAKARTA ( - A controversial palm oil company (PT ABN) whose concession lies in part of the Leuser Ecosystem recently reaffirmed in a letter (Jan 30) its commitment to building partnerships to adopt a No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation (NDPE) policy.

Controversy surrounds this company due to its clearing of most of the remaining forests - home to the Sumatran elephant - in its concession in 2016-2017, at the same time the Indonesian Environment and Forestry Ministry was legally intervening to stop this deforestation.

The company’s commitment comes as what is left in its palm oil concession are merely elephant migration routes. These are located in the relatively small remaining secondary forests and old palm oil plantation blocks allocated for conservation.

These elephant migration routes are shown by Greenomics Indonesia in the following image. The coordinate points were obtained from the palm oil company.

The company’s commitment is basically no different to what its owner said two years ago in an in-depth discussion with, also attended by the Greenomics team, which was reported on by this news portal at the time. 

“The palm oil company’s letter is still important, even though it’s too late because most of the remaining forests in the concession have been removed for new palm oil plantations,” said Vanda Mutia Dewi, Executive Director of Greenomics Indonesia (Feb 8).

“Nevertheless, if we look at the efforts needed to protect the existing elephant routes in the concession and to ensure that the company’s soon-to-operate new mill is aligned with NDPE practices, the company’s move is still worthy of support,” she added. 

The images below, presented by Greenomics, depict the ongoing replanting operations which exclude the palm oil concession’s Sumatran elephant migration routes in areas allocated as conservation blocks.

New mill with transparent supply chain 

In its letter, the palm oil company declared that it will implement a clear and transparent supply chain, including refraining from sourcing fresh fruit bunches from illegal palm oil plantations, for its new mill.

US-based environmental NGO Rainforest Action Network (RAN) recently posted its stance (Feb 7) on the company's move.

In its blog, RAN lauded the palm oil company’s pledge as “a much-needed commitment to protect rainforests and ensure its operations comply with global market requirements to halt deforestation for palm oil.”

RAN added, “With its long track record as a bad actor in the region, it’s imperative that major brands and traders exposed for sourcing from PT ABN, such as Wilmar, GAR, Nestlé, Mondelēz and Mars, engage with PT ABN.”

According to RAN, this is to ensure that “the palm oil company follows through on the implementation of its commitment to protect these forests, and establish systems to ensure that its new mill only sources traceable and deforestation-free palm oil.”

Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya legally incorporated the Leuser Ecosystem’s boundaries into the Aceh spatial plan through a ministerial decree in November 2016.

Prior to this the 2013 Aceh spatial plan had excluded the Leuser Ecosystem’s boundaries, but thanks to the minister’s legal move the Leuser Ecosystem now forms an integral and inseparable part of the Aceh spatial plan.