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. Certified sustainable palm oil is not grown on land that was still forested in 2005.

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 and carry out biodiversity surveys. 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 already uses satellite imagery to monitor its HCV areas annually, and from early in 2019 we have used drones to help protect our conservation areas from encroachment.

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.