Target: Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil
Goal: Have legal consequences leveled against the PT Sisirau palm oil company for violating roundtable agreements by clearing high conservation value forests containing protected orangutan populations
The production of palm oil accounts for 25% of all deforestation in the country of Indonesia. It is for this reason that the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil is in place, setting criteria for environmentally responsible palm oil production. The PT Sisirau palm oil company is a member of this roundtable, and as such is obligated to follow the rules set forth which stop clearance of areas that are deemed of high conservation value. A complaint has now been issued against them by the Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS) for violating these rules from February to September of 2012.
It was during this time that the Orangutan Information Centre (OIC) saved seven orangutans from the company’s plantation. The rescue groups were contacted by the company itself, although the company claims to have halted all work on the plantation until all orangutans had been removed. This is what the SOS and OIC claim to be untrue, saying the following: “[Our] team can attest to the fact that the clearance did not stop after the first rescue, when the company was well-aware that there were more orangutans remaining in the plantation. Many attempts were made to contact the company to discuss the situation and try and reach an agreed course of action to ensure that the remaining orangutans on the land were not put at risk.”
The company’s response to this has been to attest that the orangutans in question were not indigenous to the area, and that the area could not be legitimate orangutan living space on account of it being “scrubland”. However, the SOS has firmly stated that orangutans do not migrate to less optimum living lands from those of better quality, meaning that these animals had long called this place home. Their very presence, therefore, suggests that the land is in fact that of high conservation value — putting the company in violation of roundtable rules. The company has failed to make their obligatory High Conservation Value assessment public.
Dear Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil,
A complaint has been filed with you by the Sumatran Orangutan Society concerning the PT Sisirau palm oil company, a member of your body. According to members of the Sumatran Orangutan Society and their partners at the Orangutan Information Center, the company is in violation of the rules you have set forth for the protection of high conservation forests.
Orangutans are endangered and legally protected under Indonesian law. Despite this fact, the PT Sisirau company continued to clear forests they knew to be inhabited by the animal during the time from February to September of 2012. Furthermore, they have made false claims about safety measures taken to stop clearance before all orangutans had been evacuated. And of particular importance is the fact that the orangutan presence in the area, which cannot be reasonably dismissed as a recent incursion, itself points to the area in fact being of high conservation value. The PT Sisirau company is therefore in violation of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.
Representatives from the company have already gone on record saying that they expect to be “completely exonerated” from the accusations made against them, in spite of the evidence saying otherwise. Please, ensure that action is taken against the PT Sisirau company for the protection of both forests and orangutans.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Ruth Bourne