Conservation and biodiversity

Concerns about global warming and particularly the destruction of the tropical rainforest have rightly received, and continue to receive, close scrutiny.

As an industry, palm oil is one of those associated with cutting down tropical rainforest and destroying the habitat of endangered species. However, far from all cleared forest ends up as oil-palm plantations. We believe there is plentiful land available to grow sustainable palm oil that does not require rainforest destruction.

Following the definition specified by the RSPO, no deforestation means ensuring that oil palm is not grown on land with undisturbed forest since 2005, and on land that was identified as peat or having high carbon stock since November 2018. These same criteria apply to all our suppliers.

Conservation area notice

We take our responsibility as custodians for more than 3,300 hectares of high conservation value (“HCV”) areas very seriously, with regular monitoring by our sustainability teams who are resident on adjacent plantations.

Prominent signboards are set out giving specific details of the HCV area and warning that unauthorised access is prohibited.

Our conservation areas are patrolled daily, and we use camera traps to monitor wild animals. We also conduct training with our own workers and amongst local villages to raise awareness of the importance of HCV areas to local communities. Hunting is banned on all our estates and conservation areas.

The Group uses satellite imagery and drones to monitor its HCV areas and to help protect its conservation areas from encroachment. Within the past year the Group has not detected any deforestation within its own operations, scheme-smallholder areas or third-party suppliers.

As part of our commitment to protect biodiversity, we engage the provincial universities or local consultants to survey the presence of rare, threatened, and endangered species (against widely used systems of classifications such as the IUCN Red List, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (“CITES”) Appendices and the national protected species lists), not just within our conservation and plantation areas but within a wider landscape context. These baselines are the foundations to further scientific research in order for us to set measurable targets within our policies.

At Aceh, in 2017 we concluded that 25 hectares of land were too steep to be replanted, and as a result we have planted 1,500 seedlings of 11 types of forest species. In North Sumatra, 18 hectares of wetlands close to the Bilah river have never been very productive, and consequently this area is being prepared for re-foresting. Forest species will be planted between the palms and the palms will gradually be removed as the forest trees mature.

The Group has supported and accommodated plantation inspections from the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation and from Sainsbury’s. An inspection was also carried out by the French energy group TOTAL at the end of 2019.

Updated March 2023

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