Palm Oil


Major Rainforest Destroyer in Indonesia Pledges to Address its Deforestation Legacy

Long-awaited palm oil policy by POSCO International sets the stage for action on deforestation

South Korea's largest trading company, POSCO International, has published a long-awaited zero deforestation policy for its global palm oil operations. The ‘No Deforestation, No Peatland, No Exploitation’ (NDPE) policy includes measures to protect rainforests, safeguard the rights of local indigenous communities, and a pledge to compensate for the group’s deforestation legacy in Papua, Indonesia.

Mighty Earth, which provided input into a draft version of the policy, has been campaigning with allies for over three years to stop the surge of palm oil driven deforestation by POSCO International and other major players in Papua, Indonesia.

“Papua, the third largest rainforest in the world and one of the most biodiverse forest regions on Earth, was largely untouched by the palm oil industry until recent years, but has quickly become the next frontier for palm oil and agribusiness expansion in Indonesia,” said Deborah Lapidus, Senior Campaign Director at Mighty Earth. “POSCO International’s new policy reflects a growing understanding that this magnificent region is worthy of conservation, not destruction.”

“It is encouraging that POSCO International’s new policy includes a commitment to compensate for its legacy of forest destruction – such a pledge is, unfortunately, still rare in the industry, and could set an important precedent if POSCO International follows through. Indeed, the policy broadly sets out worthy standards and goals, but these are just words on paper until we see substantial positive changes on the ground in Papua. Given that most of the concession area has already been cleared, it is critical that the company genuinely remediates for the impacts of its deforestation. It must also prioritize responding to the concerns raised by affected local communities, including issues of land rights and water pollution.”

Using data published by the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Mighty Earth mapping analysis indicates that:

  • In 2011, before POSCO International started developing its PT Bio Inti Agrindo (PT BIA) concession in Papua, over half (~19,000 hectares) of the area was covered by ‘primary forest’;
  • Between 2012 and 2018, an estimated 27,000 hectares of rainforest were cleared within PT BIA, nearly 80% ofthe total concession area: Over half of this deforestation (nearly 15,000 hectares) was ‘primary forest’.

POSCO International’s destruction of Indonesia’s last remaining forests has been exposed and challenged in numerous reports, field investigations, and campaigns by Mighty Earth and other organizations around the world, including Pusaka and SKP KAMe Meruake based in Indonesia, Korea Federation for Environmental Movements and APIL based in South Korea, Milieudefensie based in the Netherlands, and Friends of the Earth US. In January 2018, POSCO International declared that it had issued a temporary moratorium on deforestation in its Papua palm oil plantation. In June 2018, the world’s fifth largest pension fund, the Dutch ABP, divested from POSCO International over its failure to address its deforestation. In 2015, the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, the Norwegian Pension Fund, divested its shares in all POSCO companies, following an investigation into its deforestation in Papua.


Photo: Sprawling palm oil plantation PT BIA in Papua, owned by POSCO Daewoo. All the palm oil saplings are growing on top of recently destroyed forest. Taken June 2016, Credit: Mighty Earth

Investigation Finds Papua's Largest Palm Oil Operator Destroyed Vast Areas of Endangered Rainforest, Cheated and Abused Indigenous People

Investigation Finds Papua's Largest Palm Oil Operator Destroyed Vast Areas of Endangered Rainforest, Cheated and Abused Indigenous People

Despite significant censoring, newly released findings from the Forest Stewardship Council show Korindo Group destroyed over 30,000 hectares of rainforest in the past five years, systematically manipulated and underpaid indigenous landowners

BONN, GERMANY – Today, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a global certification body for responsible forest management, released summaries of its findings from a two-year investigation prompted by a complaint filed by Mighty Earth against the Korindo Group, a notorious Korean-Indonesian logging and palm oil conglomerate.

“The severity of Korindo’s wrongdoing revealed in these reports is just devastating, even with FSC and Korindo covering up more than 110 pages of the findings,” said Deborah Lapidus, Senior Campaigns Director at Mighty Earth. “Korindo has long justified its destruction of vast areas of pristine rainforests on the basis of ‘development’ but the reality is just the opposite. These investigations exposed how Korindo went to great lengths to manipulate, intimidate, and cheat local communities. There is no justification that the FSC has gone along with Korindo in burying the full report, as these sorts of practices are all too commonplace in Papua and rarely exposed. Remediation for communities is long overdue, and a full and honest disclosure of the FSC’s findings would do a lot of good.”

For years, even as Korindo engaged in deforestation on a massive scale in Papua and North Maluku, Indonesia, as documented by Mighty Earth, the group has been benefiting from FSC’s prestigious eco-forestry label to sell timber, plywood, pulpwood, biomass, and newsprint to customers such as Asia Pulp & Paper and APRIL (Indonesia), Sumitomo Forestry, Oji Corporation, and Marubeni (Japan), and News Corps Australia.

The FSC commissioned a Complaints Panel to conduct an investigation, and subsequently conducted two additional investigations into Mighty Earth’s allegations against Korindo.

Mighty Earth has consistently called on the FSC to release its findings in full. The main Complaints Panel report, which was originally at least 110 pages in length and scheduled to be released on September 5, was pulled after FSC received a “cease and desist” letter from Korindo. The document released by FSC today has been reduced to a mere one-page summary. The summaries of the two additional investigations include a number of redactions that FSC states are “due to a disagreement with Korindo”.

But even these partial reports paint a damning picture, concluding that Korindo was guilty of flouting FSC standards by violating indigenous peoples’ rights, carrying out significant conversion of natural forests, and destroying significant areas of High Conservation Value (HCVs). The reports detail Korindo’s destruction of over 30,000 hectares of rainforest and endangered species habitat in just the past five years (more than 50,000 overall), multiple failures of Korindo to obtain the Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) of local indigenous communities to development on their lands, irreparable damage to ecosystems and watersheds that has led to communities being deprived of basic needs including land, food, water, and livelihoods, and the severe underpayment to communities of revenue from their forest resources. As a result of these findings, the Complaints Panel recommended that “Korindo should be disassociated from the FSC due to the clear and convincing evidence of violations of THR [Traditional and Human Rights] (as well as significant conversion),” as stated in the Social Analysis report released by FSC today (page 41).

Despite this recommendation, the FSC Board decided to reach an agreement with Korindo on improvement and remediation measures. In July 2019, the FSC Board announced that Korindo’s continued association with the FSC would be “dependent on Korindo’s complying with strict requirements towards social and environmental reparations and remedy.” Today, the FSC elaborated on those requirements.

“The remedial measures unveiled today are not proportionate to the extreme violations revealed in the investigative reports,” Lapidus said. “Notably, they fail to include restoration and remedy for Korindo’s clearing of over 50,000 hectares of rainforests and damage caused to the rivers and ecosystems, which violate FSC standards. It is also notable that Korindo’s first act after reaching the agreement with FSC was to bully FSC into censoring the details of its wrongdoing and its liabilities to communities. Korindo simply isn’t serious about accepting full responsibility for its violations of FSC standards.”

The FSC statement claims that the exact remedial measures will be determined in a forthcoming, FSC-led stakeholder consultation “roadmap” process. To date, no further details of this process have been released by FSC.

In September, when the FSC initially postponed the release of these materials, Mighty Earth’s call for accountability and transparency was echoed by community organizations working in Papua:

“Korindo has destroyed community lands and livelihoods without peoples’ consent, robbed communities of their natural resources, subjected people to violence and intimidation, and polluted their rivers – all while hiring mainly workers from outside Papua. Korindo is also not taking its corporate social responsibility seriously,” said Pastor Anselmus Amo from SKP-KAMe Meruake, a Papuan human rights organization. “FSC should consult directly with affected communities to better understand Korindo’s egregious actions and the communities’ views on what fair compensation and remediation measures would be. We stand ready to help resolve this long-standing conflict.”

“For two decades, Korindo has gotten away with violating indigenous peoples’ land rights without exposure, while selling itself in the media as a savior to the Papuan people,” said Franky Samperante of Yayasan Pusaka, which works to defend indigenous land rights in Papua. “Therefore, it is important that the world knows the reality of what has transpired in Papua and North Maluku.”

“Korindo has previously attempted to spin the FSC conclusions as exoneration, but the findings released today prove that claim to be utterly dishonest,” Lapidus said.  “If Korindo is serious about cleaning up its heavily damaged reputation, it must stop denying its culpability, embrace transparency, heed the FSC’s requirements for compensation and remediation, and resolve community grievances—including by returning customary lands. Until it does, no companies should be doing business with Korindo.”

“The FSC must stop acting like an industry apologist and release its findings in full. Affected communities and Korindo customers mustn’t be left in the dark. The FSC should immediately commence the process of securing remedy for the severe harms caused, in full consultation with affected communities,” said Lapidus.

Revealing excerpts from the public reports (emphasis added) include:

“The recommendations of the CP were set out clearly in the executive summary of their report (pp.8-9): that Korindo should be disassociated from the FSC due to the clear and convincing evidence of violations of THR [Traditional and Human Rights] (as well as of significant conversion).”

“The conversion was deemed to be significant among others due to its scale of more than 30,000ha in the last five years, due to the failure to protect adequate areas of natural vegetation, and due to the impact that it has had on local communities and in particular the failure to compensate landowners adequately for the timber taken.”

“The only possible conclusion that can be drawn is that extensive abuse has occurred of the rights that are part of the FSC system, as well as all similar standards…these are land rights, FPIC rights, and rights relating to the fulfillment of basic human needs.”

As a result of these violations, the affected communities have suffered considerable harms. These range from the threat and in some cases use of violence, in an ongoing atmosphere of intimidation (and above and beyond that associated with the prevailing local security setting); the inability to exercise their right to oppose the concession; and the highly disproportionate compensation payments, received by a minority of community members only, and with little knowledge or any participation on the part of many. Just as the CP [FSC Complaints Panel] concluded, this additional analysis thus also finds beyond any doubt that there are strong and sufficient grounds for the disassociation of all the companies associated with these serious violations.”

“Korindo’s activities involved the clearing of substantial areas of Southern New Guinea Lowland Rain Forest which is considered endangered/critical in the Global 200 classification…In addition, the conversion most likely destroyed some areas that provided critical resources for local communities.”

“The evidence is clear and convincing that these HCV’s were for all intents and purposes, destroyed. Rehabilitation efforts would stimulate recovery, but in an ecological context, the landscape has been irreparably altered by Korindo’s commercial activities.”

The clearing of the riparian areas (streams, rivers, springs, and adjacent to lakes) is not consistent with Indonesian law.”

“The nearly complete transformation of the southern peninsula of Halmahera Island from a mixture of Moluccan moist forest interspersed with shifting cultivation and small coconut groves to large-scale production of oil palm monocrop has had a profound impact on the landscape. The evidence and chronology of the immutable changes to the landscape is very clear and conciseThe loss of HCV 1 should be considered destruction because it is not feasible to restore/rehabilitate the area. The conversion of the PT GMM concession presents unique circumstances because it has changed the landscape of entire southern end of the island which also dominates the entire upper portion of the watershed.”

It is also recommended that the companies should also initiate a formal process of remedy with the communities concerned. The CP [Complaints Panel] report has clearly and in great detail verified and elaborated on both the broader patterns and the various individual acts of violation, as had previously also been described and compiled with much supporting evidence in the original reports and in the complaint. There is no more room for reasonable doubt that these multiple violations have occurred.’ ‘There is thus no reason for any further delay in starting the process of remedy that is now required, to be based on engagement with the affected communities in response to all the various violations that have been repeatedly identified, in relation to land acquisition, FPIC processes and HCV protection. A remedy process should be initiated with all the affected communities referred to in these documents as having expressed unhappiness, ongoing grievances and frustration with the outcomes of the operations, and/or well-substantiated allegations of violations of their THR [Traditional and Human Rights]’. 

Read more excerpts and background here


Deforestation Continues Because Companies Aren't Trying

A new assessment released by Climate Focus has found that an area of tree cover the size of the United Kingdom was lost every year between 2014 and 2018. The assessment suggests that achieving the 2020 New York Declaration on Forests targets is now likely impossible. In response to the new report, Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz released the following statement:

"Forests are burning in large measure because the big companies that committed to save them are not actually trying to do so. Companies like Ahold Delhaize, McDonald’s, and Mars are, despite all their pledges, continuing to do business on a vast scale with the very companies most responsible for this deforestation, such as Cargill and JBS. Not only are these companies directly financing deforestation, they have repeatedly lobbied governments to stop basic environmental protections. Nobody doing business with Cargill and JBS can credibly say they are concerned about deforestation.

"The tragedy of these findings is that they also demonstrate that success is possible. Companies can achieve dramatic progress when they actually make an effort. These same companies have largely, though imperfectly, enforced their no deforestation polices in the palm oil industry, and the results on the ground show it: deforestation for palm oil has declined from 1 million acres a year to 200,000 acres per year. This is, of course, still 200,000 acres of deforestation too many, but it also shows real progress is possible."

Additional resources:


Korindo Threatens Legal Action to Bury the Truth

Palm oil and timber conglomerate sends Forest Stewardship Council a “cease and desist” letter the day it was scheduled to release findings from two-year investigation into the company’s wrongdoing

JAKARTA – Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a global certification body for responsible forest management, was scheduled to release summaries of its investigatory findings from a two-year investigation into the Korindo Group, a notorious Korean-Indonesian logging and palm oil conglomerate, on September 5, 2019. However, Mighty Earth was notified by FSC that it has indefinitely delayed the publication of its findings after receiving dubious legal threats from Korindo, including the apparent delivery of a "cease and desist" letter.

"Korindo is using the threat of legal action to bury the FSC's findings and suppress evidence of its wrongdoing," said Mighty Earth Senior Campaign Director Deborah Lapidus. "These are not the actions of an innocent party. Korindo's willing embrace of bullying tactics is proof they have something to hide."

The investigation, prompted by a complaint filed by Mighty Earth, concluded that Korindo had flouted the FSC's 'Policy for Association' by violating indigenous peoples' rights, carrying out significant conversion of natural forests, and destroying significant areas of High Conservation Value (HCVs).

Yet, for years Korindo has been using the FSC's prestigious eco-forestry label to greenwash its destructive practices. Korindo sells its timber, plywood, pulpwood, biomass, and newsprint to customers such as Asia Pulp & Paper (Indonesia), APRIL (Indonesia), Sumitomo Forestry (Japan), Oji Corporation (Japan), Marubeni (Japan), and News Corps Australia.

As a result of Korindo's violations of FSC standards, the FSC imposed a series of measures on the company to improve its practices and address its liabilities for the severe damages it caused. These conclusions were announced in July 2019. According to the FSC statement, Korindo will be required to continue its suspension of any forest conversion and deforestation, achieve FSC certification in all its forestry operations and to comply with the principle of FPIC [Free Prior and Informed Consent]. Korindo is also required to assess past negative impact and secure remedy for it. Furthermore, the FSC says it will disassociate Korindo if it fails to adhere to these requirements.

"Instead of acknowledging its wrongdoing and taking responsibility for its actions, Korindo chose to spin the conclusions of the FSC investigation and proclaim its innocence in the press. If Korindo wants the truth to be known about what the FSC found, it should call on FSC to release the full findings of its investigations – as we have done – so that the public can see the truth for themselves," said Lapidus. "But instead, Korindo is trying to intimidate FSC into silence, as it has attempted to do with Mighty Earth and many of our NGO partners."

"There is no justification for FSC's complicity in covering up Korindo's wrongdoing. It needs to stop doing the dirty work of deforesters and start acting like a sustainability organization," Lapidus added.

“We urge the FSC to stand strong and proceed with releasing the full findings of the investigations, as they are required to do by their own procedures. Do not give in to Korindo's gangster-style threats,” said Mighty Earth Campaign Director and FSC expert Phil Aikman. "Korindo's customers deserve to know the truth about the origins of their purportedly sustainable products. The indigenous people who have suffered at the hands of this nefarious conglomerate deserve to see Korindo held accountable and to be fairly compensated. And the public has the right to know just how much precious rainforest was destroyed."

"We call on the FSC to suspend Korindo, as the company is acting in obvious bad faith and is clearly not ready to accept its liabilities,” Aikman concluded.

Mighty Earth’s call for accountability and transparency was echoed by community organizations working in Papua.

Franky Samperante of Yayasan Pusaka, which works to defend indigenous land rights in Papua said, "We got the complaints from the victims that are impacted by logging and palm oil company, subsidiary company of Korindo Group. Land, forest and sago hamlet which are their food resources and livelihood are being destroyed. The river as the clean water supply has been contaminated by plant waste and pesticides. Their rights and power over their own land moved unwittingly. Indigenous people and workers are subjected to violence and intimidation threats."

"Korindo is also not taking its corporate social responsibility seriously," said Pastor Anselmus Amo from SKP-KAMe Meruake, a Papuan human rights organization. "FSC should consult directly with affected communities to better understand Korindo’s egregious actions and the communities’ views on what fair compensation and remediation measures would be. We stand ready to help resolve this long standing conflict."

Samperante added, "For over decades, Korindo has gotten away with violating indigenous peoples’ land rights without exposure, while selling itself in the media as a savior to the Papuan people. Korindo should be seriously committed to respect and recover our rights and protect local environment."

Further information, please contact:

Alex Armstrong
Mighty Earth
[email protected]

Ayunda Putri
Image Dynamics
[email protected]

Two-Year Investigation Finds Major Palm Oil Producer Korindo Guilty of Rainforest Destruction and Human Rights Abuses

Two-Year Investigation Finds Major Palm Oil Producer Korindo Guilty of Rainforest Destruction and Human Rights Abuses


Forest Stewardship Council concludes that Korindo violated its standards, mandates improvement and remediation measures to avoid disassociation

Today, after a two-year investigation process prompted by a complaint filed by Mighty Earth, the International Board of Directors of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a global certification body on responsible forest management, acted in its longdelayed case against The Korindo Group.

The Korindo Group is a notorious Korean-Indonesian logging and palm oil conglomerate that has engaged in massive scale deforestation in Papua and North Maluku, Indonesia, as exposed in Mighty Earth’s “Burning Paradise” report. Yet, for years Korindo has been using the FSC’s prestigious eco-forestry label to greenwash its destructive practices. Korindo sells its timber, plywood, pulpwood, biomass, and newsprint to customers such as Asia Pulp & Paper (Indonesia), APRIL (Indonesia), Sumitomo Forestry (Japan), Oji Corporation (Japan), Marubeni (Japan), and News Corps Australia.

Today, the FSC announced its conclusion that Korindo violated its ‘Policy for Association’ and has imposed a series of measures on the company to address its liabilities for the severe damages it has caused, or else stand to be disassociated from the FSC and lose its certificates. The FSC concluded that Korindo will be required to “continue its suspension of any forest conversion and deforestation, achieve FSC certification in all its forestry operations and to comply with the principle of FPIC [Free Prior and Informed Consent]. Korindo is also required to assess past negative impact and secure remedy for it.”

Deborah Lapidus, Senior Campaigns Director at Mighty Earth, released the following statement:

“We hope this means that Korindo’s days of abusing the rights of indigenous peoples and systematically destroying vast areas of pristine rainforest with impunity are finally over. But success or failure depends on exactly what Korindo will agree to – and whether those commitments are sufficient to remedy the severe impacts Korindo has had on communities, forests, and ecosystems in Papua and North Maluku. It is critical that the remediation requirements be determined in close consultation with affected communities, and not set by Korindo which has a vested interest in minimizing its liabilities.

“The FSC’s investigation has verified the damning evidence documented by Mighty Earth and found Korindo guilty as charged. By carrying out large scale deforestation (more than 30,000 hectares in the two years prior to filing the complaint), destroying critical wildlife habitat and violating traditional and human rights, Korindo was flouting FSC standards and threatened to make a mockery of the FSC’s prestigious label. In response, it is only appropriate that the FSC makes Korindo fully accountable for its egregious conduct.

“However, it is a shame the FSC chose not to release the full findings of the three investigations it conducted concurrent with this announcement so the public and affected stakeholders could read the findings for themselves, rather than enabling Korindo to distort the facts and spin the conclusions. The FSC statement glosses over the true scale and severity of Korindo’s violations and misrepresents the Panel’s findings on fires. We call on the FSC to release the full version of the reports. Only a full, unbiased disclosure of Korindo’s wrongdoing can make it possible for the effectiveness of their remediation measures to be assessed.

“Mighty Earth calls on Korindo to return customary lands, resolve social conflicts and grievances, fairly compensate local communities for lost land, natural resources, and livelihoods, and restore damaged ecosystems. Korindo needs to finance the restoration of an area at least equivalent to that which it has destroyed over the past two decades.

“If Korindo delivers on what must be a commitment running into the hundreds of millions of dollars of liabilities, the FSC’s actions today will set a strong precedent. Today’s announcement has put other companies, like Korindo’s neighbor in Papua, Posco International, on notice that rampant deforestation and destruction of indigenous lands must be eliminated and remedied.”

Mighty Earth is calling on the FSC to pursue new investigations into the many other FSC-certified groups engaged in deforestation and human rights abuses. To that end, Mighty Earth recently filed a new complaint against the KTS Group for its continued violation of the FSC Policy for Association. The complaint documents evidence that KTS’s oil palm business, BLD Plantation, has cleared more than 10,000 hectares of carbon-rich peat forests in Sarawak (Malaysia) in the last five years and violated the rights of local indigenous people. KTS pulpwood customers include the Indonesian paper giants, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and APRIL, which both have No Deforestation, No Peat, and No Exploitation policies. The FSC has yet to take a decision to process this complaint.

Quotes from Indonesian partners working in Papua:

Franky Samperante from Yayasan Pusaka stated: “For two decades, Korindo has gotten away with violating land rights without exposure, while selling itself in the media as a savior to the Papuan people.  Therefore, it is important that people know the reality of what has transpired in Papua and North Maluku.  The FSC has a responsibility to release its findings in full.”

Pastor Anselmus Amo from SKP-KAMe Meruake added : “Korindo has destroyed community lands and livelihoods without people’s consent, robbed communities of their natural resources, subjected people to violence and intimidation, and polluted the rivers – all while hiring mainly workers outside Papua. Korindo is also not doing its CSR seriously. We hope the FSC will consult directly with affected communities to better understand Korindo’s bad actions and the communities’ views on what fair compensation and remediation measures would be. We stand ready to help.”

Cargill Named "Worst Company in the World"

Cargill Named "Worst Company in the World"

New report documents US-based agribusiness giant’s “ineptitude and incoherence at a grand scale.”

This press release is available in French, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese and German.

July 11, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Environmental campaign organization Mighty Earth announced today that it had named Minnesota-based Cargill as the “Worst Company in the World” due to its unscrupulous business practices, environmental destruction, and repeated insistence on standing in the way of global progress on sustainability. Mighty Earth’s new report, “Cargill: The Worst Company in the World,” documents decades of bad acts by the company and highlights the need for urgent action. The report is available in Spanish, Dutch, French, Portuguese and German.

“In my 40-year long career in Congress, I took on a range of companies that engaged in abusive practices,” former congressman and Mighty Earth Chairman Henry Waxman writes in the report. “I have seen firsthand the harmful impact of businesses that do not bring their ethics with them to work. But Cargill stands out.”

“As one of the largest companies in the world, Cargill has a responsibility to address its outsized impact,” Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz said. “Mighty Earth runs campaigns around the globe to advocate for sustainable business practices, and Cargill kept showing up when our investigations identified bad actors. Whether we were working on palm oil in Southeast Asia, cocoa farming in West Africa, or soy cultivation in South America, Cargill was always there, ready to thwart progress and impede joint conservation efforts. Given their ubiquity and obstinance, we decided it was time to take a closer look at their checkered past.”

For months, Mighty Earth has engaged in discussions with Cargill, including at the CEO level, to address the report’s findings and seek long-term solutions. Mighty Earth has served as a key convener for other sectors – including rubber, chocolate, and palm oil – as those companies sought to improve their environmental standards and impacts. However, Cargill has refused, time and time again, to substantively address the problems Mighty Earth identified. Instead, Cargill continues to prioritize the deforesters in its supply chains over the climate or their customers’ sustainability demands.

“In press releases and public statements, the agribusiness giant Cargill presents itself as frustrated with deforestation, as though it were some externality they have no control over, like bad weather,” Hurowitz said. “But deforestation isn’t something that’s happening to Cargill, it’s something that Cargill is doing.”

Mighty Earth’s new report identifies Ahold Delhaize – an international supermarket giant that owns Stop & Shop, Giant, Food Lion, Hannaford, and many other brands – as a key customer of Cargill that could take immediate action. Ahold Delhaize, despite its own corporate sustainability pledges, recently broke ground on a new meat packaging facility in Rhode Island as a joint venture with Cargill.

“It’s important for Ahold Delhaize and other Cargill customers to set new sourcing standards that eliminate deforestation from their supply chains. They have the power to force Cargill’s hand, but continued inaction makes them complicit in Cargill’s malfeasance,” said Mighty Earth Senior Director for Forests Mat Jacobson. “Cargill has only gotten away with its bad behavior for so long because it is not a consumer-facing brand. But if folks knew the food they get at McDonald’s, Stop & Shop, or Target was destroying the rainforests or had been produced with child slavery, they’d be shocked.”

The release of Mighty Earth’s groundbreaking report kicks-off a multimillion-dollar, multi-year campaign targeting Cargill and its customers that will urge the agribusiness giant to eliminate deforestation and human rights abuses from its supply chain. To launch the campaign, local Mighty Earth activists and allies including Minnesota Clean Water Action honored Cargill for its dubious distinction with a rally outside Cargill headquarters in Minnesota at which it awarded the company a “thumbs down” placard.

About the Report

Major findings:

  • Cargill is poised to further wreak havoc on fragile ecosystems in Brazil, taking advantage of President Bolsonaro’s rollback of vital environmental protections. In 2014, Cargill pledged to end deforestation for all commodities in its supply chain by 2020. With just one year left, Cargill has continued to incentivize deforestation, remained one of the worst actors on the world stage, and now stands poised to embrace the dawning of a Bolsonaro-era free-for-all in Brazil’s forests.
  • In November 2017, Cargill was fined $10 million by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission for years of deliberately misreporting its trade values – by up to 90 percent – in order to defraud both the government and its trading partners. In October 2018, David Dines, the Cargill executive responsible for these violations, was promoted to Chief Financial Officer.
  • Indigenous peoples who depend on forests have had their land encroached upon by Cargill-linked soy plantations in Brazil. They have been forced off of their traditional lands and have experienced sharp increases in cancer, birth defects, miscarriages, and other illnesses linked to pesticides and herbicides used to grow soy – often sprayed by planes directly overhead.
  • Cargill is one of the top ten polluters in the US food industry for more than a dozen pollutants, including formaldehyde, lead, asbestos, hydrogen cyanide, and mercury.

Photo and video assets relating to the report and Cargill’s operations across different commodities are available for media.

Contact: Alex Armstrong, [email protected]

Major Rogue Player in Southeast Asia’s Palm Oil Industry Announces Zero Deforestation Policy

Move follows years of public campaigning by NGOs and market suspensions

BLD Plantation Bhd, a major palm oil producer and refiner operating in Sarawak, Malaysia, has announced a Sustainability Policy committing to “No Deforestation, No Development on Peat, and No Exploitation” (NDPE). The policy covers the company’s own operations and those of its third-party suppliers. BLD has been identified as one of the worst deforesters in the Southeast Asian palm oil industry by both Mighty Earth’s Rapid Response Monitoring System findings and Chain Reaction Research’s analysis.

“BLD might not be a household name, but for years its palm oil has ended up in snacks, soaps, and gas tanks around the world,” said Mighty Earth Senior Campaign Director Deborah Lapidus. “We commend BLD for taking this step and believe it is a sign of the transformation underway in the palm oil industry toward greater responsibility. However, Mighty Earth and other NGOs as well as BLD’s own customers have been urging BLD to end its peatland destruction since at least 2015 and have repeatedly found it clearing until as recently as December 2018.  At this point, BLD has cleared almost all of its plantation. In order for BLD’s policy to have teeth, the company must agree to develop a credible plan to restore the peatlands it has destroyed, and resolve its numerous conflicts over land rights with local indigenous communities.”

This announcement is preceded by years of public campaigning against BLD by Mighty Earth, as well as other international and local NGOs. BLD has been responsible for destroying over 17,500 hectares of deep carbon-rich peatlands (12,000 hectares in just the last five years alone), and encroaching onto the customary lands of indigenous communities, on its palm oil plantation north of Sibu, Sarawak.

Peatland destruction leads to massive climate emissions and has worsened Southeast Asia's haze crisis, which was so severe in 2015 that it led to the premature deaths of more than 100,000 people in the region.

BLD has been suspended by several major global palm oil buyers for violating their NDPE commitments, including traders such as AAK, Bunge Loders Croklaan, IOI, Louis Dreyfus, and Wilmar.

On May 14, Mighty Earth filed a “Policy for Association” complaint with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), challenging the forest sustainability certification of the logging and palm oil conglomerate KTS Group, the parent company of  BLD, due to its violations of the FSC’s prohibitions on deforestation and human rights abuses. The FSC is expected to decide whether it will process the complaint in the near future.

BLD is one of the largest refiners still providing a market for irresponsible palm oil growers across Sarawak, a region that is rampant with deforestation driven by tycoon-owned logging and palm oil conglomerates.

“As a first step in implementation, BLD must immediately publish the list of palm oil mills and plantations it sources from and take action to remove or reform any suppliers violating its new policy.  If this new NDPE commitment is done correctly, BLD has a chance to play a big role in transforming the palm oil market in Sarawak,” said Lapidus.

Resistance to Destructive Palm Oil Grows in South Korea

South Korean firms exposed for driving large scale deforestation and human rights abuse in Indonesia

A recent report has exposed the harmful practices of major Korean conglomerates linked to the palm oil industry in Indonesia, leading to public outcry and consequences for some of the companies involved. The report, originally released in Korean and translated into English, is titled Does Spring Come to Stolen Forests, and documents both human rights abuses and environmental destruction: Indonesian workers on South Korean-owned palm oil plantations have routinely been exiled from their land, exposed to hazardous chemicals and pesticides, and forced to work in poor conditions with unstable wages. The South Korean companies are also responsible for cutting down millions of hectares of rainforests, releasing significant amounts of greenhouse gases, and destroying the habitats of critically endangered orangutans, elephants, rhinoceroses, and tree kangaroos.

The report was published by Korea Federation for Environmental Movements (KFEM), South Korea’s largest environmental NGO, and APIL, a Korean human rights legal advocacy group, as part of a palm oil “Week of Action” in March. Their efforts around this report included a press conference, lectures, and meetings with key government ministries and agencies.

A variety of Korean companies are implicated in the report, including POSCO International – Korea’s largest trading company – and Korindo, a notorious Indonesian-Korean palm oil and timber conglomerate involved in massive-scale deforestation. KFEM and Mighty Earth first exposed Korindo in their 2016 Burning Paradise report. Since then, KFEM has worked closely with Mighty Earth to help rein in the South Korean palm oil industry, and the organization continues to break new ground on holding South Korean corporations accountable for their actions.

The report also exposed the Korean Forestry Service’s role in financing nearly 30,000 hectares of rainforest destruction in Papua, Indonesia by POSCO International, a scandal that was covered in an alarming segment (see below with English subtitles) from Korea Broadcasting Service (KBS).

This response from South Korea is evidence of a growing resistance to the destructive practices of the country’s palm oil industry. This progress also disproves the common belief that only Western consumers care about responsibly produced products, and suggests a path forward for curtailing the remaining markets for irresponsibly produced palm oil in Asia.


View the original segment here.



FSC Allowing Groups Engaged in Deforestation to Continue Profiting from its Eco-friendly Forestry Label

Mighty Earth today condemned the Forest Stewardship Council, a global certification body for responsible forest management, for its failure to police its standards by allowing companies it knows to have engaged in deforestation and human rights abuses to profit from its eco-friendly forestry label.

After recently completing a two-year investigation process prompted by a complaint filed by Mighty Earth on May 11, 2017, the FSC Board has once again delayed its announcement of a decision on the cases against the Korindo Group, a notorious Indonesian-Korean palm oil and timber conglomerate involved in massive-scale deforestation in Papua and North Maluku, Indonesia.

The complaint highlights how Korindo has violated the FSC’s ‘Policy for Association’ by engaging in three of the prohibited activities on its palm oil plantations: carrying out large scale deforestation (more than 10,000 hectares in the previous five years), destroying critical wildlife habitat (high conservation values), and violating traditional and human rights.

“We provided extensive photographic, video, and satellite evidence of 30,000 hectares of deforestation over just two years that was carried out in violation of FSC’s policies. It’s shameful that the FSC continues to allow Korindo to profit from its eco-friendly forestry label,” said Deborah Lapidus, Campaign Director at Mighty Earth. “This is pure greenwashing. FSC is acting like a PR agency for one of the world’s worst forest destroyers. If FSC doesn’t make its determination public soon, it will cease to be a credible certification body.”

Mighty Earth first exposed Korindo’s rainforest destruction in its September 2016 report, ‘Burning Paradise.’ Despite its known scandals, Korindo has been selling timber, plywood, pulpwood, biomass, and newsprint – carrying the FSC’s prestigious label for responsibly produced wood products – to customers like Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and APRIL (Indonesia), Oji Corporation and Marubeni (Japan), and News Corps Australia. The Japanese company Sumitomo has been buying Korindo’s plywood for use in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which has set a “Sustainable Sourcing Code for Timber” that specifies FSC certification as an acceptable standard.

In recent months, Korindo has resorted to hiring lawyers to threaten organizations that have continued to investigate and expose its deforestation activities. In September 2018, Korindo’s Singapore-based law firm served notice on Mighty Earth and several other NGOs around the world, citing claims made by the organizations in reports, letters, and the FSC complaint against Korindo.

“By attempting to intimidate and silence its critics, Korindo is trying to bury the truth,” said Lapidus. “Korindo’s customers, financiers, affected stakeholders, and the public deserve to have access to the FSC's independent findings.”

Mighty Earth is calling on the FSC to immediately expel Korindo and pursue new investigations into the many other FSC-certified groups engaged in deforestation and human rights abuses. To that end, Mighty Earth today filed a new complaint against the KTS Group for its continued violation of the FSC Policy for Association. The complaint documents evidence that KTS’s oil palm business, BLD Plantation, has cleared more than 10,000 hectares of carbon-rich peat forests in Sarawak (Malaysia) in the last five years and violated the rights of local indigenous people. KTS pulpwood customers include the Indonesian paper giants, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and APRIL, which both have commitments to No Deforestation, No Peat, and No Exploitation policies.

“The world lost about 30 million acres of forest last year – an area roughly the size of the state of New York,” Lapidus said. “With this destruction continuing around the world, organizations with the power to do something, like the FSC, must take swift decisive action to protect forests. Now is not the time for the FSC to let these scandals keep piling up.”

Haze in Central Kalimantan

New study reveals severe health impacts of Indonesia's haze crisis on babies

This week we've learned even more about the severe human toll caused by the toxic haze that regularly occurs in Indonesia from palm oil and pulp and paper companies igniting forest fires.  A Harvard study previously revealed that the 2015 haze crisis led to the premature death of 100,000 people.  Now, new research has found that the toxic haze from Indonesia’s 1997 raging forest fires, which spread across 42,500 square miles (bigger than the state of Tennessee), had a direct and irreversible impact on over one million babies. Prenatal infants up to babies that were 6 months old at the time, did not grow to their expected average height by the time they were 17.

This research provides more evidence of irreversible health impacts and intergenerational costs of exposure to fire and haze, suggesting that the fires/haze stunted children’s growth by up to 3.4 centimeters (1.3 inches). The authors of the new study wrote, “1.13 million individuals were in their prenatal stage during August through October 1997 in the impacted provinces of Sumatra or Kalimantan, where the air pollution and fires were most intense.” The palm oil and pulp and paper industries must stop using fire, and the Indonesian government should crack down on rogue corporations, whose actions are hurting the nation’s children.


Mighty Earth Responds to Cargill's Announcement of Revisions to Forests, Soy, and Human Rights Policies

In response to Cargill’s publication of its latest policies regarding soy, forests, and human rights, Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz released the following statement:

"Cargill is moving in the right direction by extending their promise to end deforestation by 2020 to also protect other critical ecosystems like South America’s Cerrado, Gran Chaco, and Llanos. This announcement has the potential to be the starting point that leads to a major breakthrough for more sustainable meat, cocoa, and palm oil.

"Our field investigations have shown that despite multiple commitments to protect forests over the last decade, Cargill often lags behind their competitors in the implementation of those commitments. In 2014, Cargill joined other companies in a CEO-level commitment to end deforestation across its major supply chains by 2020. Since then, we and others have published repeated investigations documenting extensive deforestation in its soy supply chain in Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.

"Over the last three weeks, I’ve been happy to hold constructive discussions about these issues several times with Cargill CEO David MacLennan; his personal focus gives us hope that Cargill has the potential to turn a corner to address deforestation across its soy, cocoa, and palm oil supply chains. Cargill also needs to dramatically improve its performance to stop destroying native vegetation and allowing fertilizer and manure to pollute America’s waterways.

"To win the trust of customers, communities, and the public, Cargill needs to show right away that it will enforce this policy by ensuring that any supplier that engages in destruction of native ecosystems is not part of their supply chain. It also needs to spread its own decade-long success in working with other companies to eliminate deforestation for soy in the Brazilian Amazon to the other soy-growing ecosystems. This is the world’s most successful private sector environmental initiative, and there’s no reason to confine it to just the Brazilian Amazon while massive deforestation continues in other areas. Cargill must also implement agroforestry practices in their cocoa supply chain and ensure farmers receive decent wages so that they can provide the sustainable chocolate that the world’s consumers demand.

"We are hopeful that soon we will be able to praise Cargill not just for promises, but for action. We will be watching closely."

Korindo Group guilty but still not charged: FSC Board delays complaint verdict until next year

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has notified Mighty Earth that its International Board of Directors has delayed until March 2019 a decision on whether the organization will disassociate from the Korindo Group, a notorious Korean-Indonesian logging and palm oil conglomerate that has engaged in massive deforestation in Papua, Indonesia.

The Board’s decision follows an investigation by an FSC appointed ‘Complaint Panel’ to assess Mighty Earth’s May 2017 ‘Policy for Association’ complaintagainst Korindo. The Panel report’s describing its findings was concluded in April 2018 and presented to the FSC Board in August 2018.

“Despite indisputable evidence that Korindo is guilty of clearing over 30,000 hectares of Indonesian rainforests, the FSC Board has failed to prevent Korindo from misusing its association with the FSC brand. said Phil Aikman, Mighty Earth’s Campaign Director. “This case couldn’t be any clearer: satellite images, videos, aerial photos, eyewitness interviews and other evidence showed that Korindo has destroyed vast areas of precious rainforests and abused rights of indigenous people.”

Mighty Earth’s report about Korindo, ‘Burning Paradise’, is available here

Under the Policy for Association, the FSC describes the ‘conversion of more than 10,000 ha of forests under the organization's responsibility in the past 5 years [as] harmful to FSC’s reputationThrough this policy FSC expects to be able to identify organizations not committed to the basic fundamentals of responsible forest management and prevent them from misusing their association with FSC.

The FSC Board has now requested supplementary analysis around two out of three aspects of the original complaint, specifically the ‘destruction of high conservation values’ and the ‘violation of traditional and human rights’ in the forest areas cleared or logged.

“Make no mistake: a delay by the FSC censuring Korindo is a win for deforestation and puts the fundamental credibility of the FSC in serious jeopardy. The FSC should have decided this case in two minutes, not almost two years.” Aikman said.

About Mighty Earth

Mighty Earth is a global environmental campaign organization that works to protect forests, conserve oceans, and address climate change. We work in Southeast Asia, Latin America, Africa, and North America to drive large-scale action towards environmentally responsible agriculture that protects native ecosystems, wildlife, and water, and respects local community rights.  Mighty Earth’s global team has played a decisive role in persuading the world’s largest food and agriculture companies to dramatically improve their environmental and social policies and practices. More information on Mighty Earth can be found at

Notes to Editor:

  • Aerial photographs of fires within Korindo’s oil palm concessions can be downloaded here.
  • FSC statement on the Board’s decision is available here
  • The ‘Policy for the Association of Organizations with FSC’ is available here.

Over 60 NGOs call for stronger reforms to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) standards

Credit: Greenpeace

Over 60 NGOs call for stronger reforms to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) standards

On July 16, 2018, Mighty Earth, together with over 60 other NGOs, signed an open letter to members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and consumer goods companies regarding the planned revisions to the RSPO Principles & Criteria.

Stronger reforms are needed to bring these standards in line with the ‘no deforestation, no peat, no exploitation’ (NDPE) standards adopted by the world’s leading palm oil traders and end use.

The NGOs have urge consumer goods manufacturing companies, and other end users of palm oil. to submit strong revisions to the RSPO to address the weaknesses and loopholes on the standards, as outlined in the open letter. This would make the revised RSPO standards consistent with their own published NDPE policies.

Re: RSPO Principles and Criteria Draft (v2)

July 16, 2018

Dear RSPO Members and Consumer Goods Manufacturing Companies:

We are writing to you regarding the proposed revisions to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Principles & Criteria (P&C). The second draft was released recently for public consultation, ending on August 2, 2018.

The undersigned NGOs are concerned about existing deficiencies in the proposed requirements.  Stronger reforms are needed to bring the P&C in line with the ‘no deforestation, no peat, no exploitation’ (NDPE) standards adopted by the world’s leading palm oil traders and end-users.

The current draft contains some positive aspects that should be supported and reinforced, but there are urgent issues that must be addressed if the RSPO is to become a credible and inclusive verification system to assess compliance with a NDPE standard. We urge consumer goods manufacturing companies and other end-users of palm oil to submit strong revisions to the RSPO to ensure the weaknesses and loopholes outlined below are addressed to secure a revised RSPO Principles and Criteria for Sustainable Palm oil Production that is consistent with your own published NDPE policies. Beyond advocating for strengthening the standard in this review process, we also urge you to use your influence to ensure the RSPO prioritizes improving its audit systems and enforcing a comprehensive NDPE standard.

Aligning with ‘No Deforestation’ standards requires the RSPO limit clearance of secondary forest in high forest cover areas

The current proposal would allow the destruction of secondary forest[1] in ‘High Forest Cover’ countries with more than 60% forest cover, including Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Liberia, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Republic of Congo, Solomon Islands as well as West Papua and Papua provinces in Indonesia for legacy cases and for community development purposes.[2]

This exemption to permit ‘allowable’ deforestation differs in important ways from the position of the HCS Approach Steering Group on High forest Cover Landscapes (HFCL). The country level 60% forest cover definition proposed (contradicted by an exemption for West Papua and Papua in Indonesia) is broader than the HCSA definition of 80% forest cover at the landscape level.  The exemption proposed creates a loophole that permits deforestation for plantation member company interests (“legacy cases”) as well as for communities. However, as currently worded the community exemption could be abused by plantation companies as clear safeguards such as truly participatory processes and controls through independent verification are not clearly outlined.

RSPO members and Consumer Goods Manufacturing Companies should support the inclusion of the HCS Approach methodology and insist on revisions to the P&C that:

  • Change the aim in the preamble of 7.13 from ‘reducing’ to ‘halting’ deforestation.
  • Ensure the key embedded elements of the HCSA, including FPIC and participatory approaches, and implementation of the HCS decision tree are followed in both fragmented tropical forest landscapes, and High Forest Cover Landscapes as defined by the HCSA.
  • Support RSPO to collaborate with HCSA in a review of valid legacy cases and exemptions in HFCL to agree on an aligned or merged process. This will include allowing only limited clearance of Young Regenerating Forest (YRF), and address the contextual issues with deforestation in these landscapes whilst ensuring customary community rights to self-determination for their livelihoods and development are upheld without coercion into palm oil development.

Aligning with ‘No Peat’ standards requires the RSPO address continued peatland degradation

Although the current proposal prohibits new plantings on peat, other than conducting ‘drainability assessments’ there is no requirement that plantation companies ‘retreat from peat’ or a specific date by which existing unviable plantations must be rewet. This is particularly important for critical peatland ecosystems that urgently need to be rewet, rehabilitated, and/or restored.

RSPO members and Consumer Goods Manufacturing Companies should insist on revisions to the P&C that:

  • Strengthen criteria 7.8.4, from “in line with” to “by following” the RSPO Drainability Assessment Procedure.
  • Ensure compulsory development of company roadmaps that will deliver the rehabilitation of peatland hydrology with a time-bound phasing out of drained land use and phasing in commercial alternatives like (community-based) paludiculture (wet land-use) or, where clearance occurred in breach of legal or RSPO requirements, peat swamp forest restoration and conservation. A prioritization should be on critical peatland ecosystems (buffer zones, fire-prone zones, peat domes following local community consultation and based on best available science – 7.4b or new).
  • Publish the proposed definition of peatland for public comment as part of the consultation process and ensure that the RSPO updates its position from a reference to the 65% definition to the ‘common’ definition of ‘Histosol’.[3] 

Aligning with ‘No Exploitation’ standards requires the RSPO address insufficient human rights standards

The current proposal incorporates a number of additional and improved indicators to address human and labour rights. However, more is needed. Living wages and protections for human rights defenders must be established. Abuses that remain rampant—including forced and unpaid labour, precarious work status, and the expropriation of lands (e.g. using eminent domain)—must be addressed through strengthened standards, verification and enforcement systems.

RSPO members and Consumer Goods Manufacturing Companies should insist on revisions to the P&C that:

  • Ensure a zero tolerance policy for retention of worker passports, a key indicator of forced labour, by removing the phrase “without consent” from 6.6.1. The clause “without consent” creates a loophole for abusive employer practices, including coercing workers to sign “consent” letters as a condition of employment and creating barriers to workers’ free and unrestricted access to their documents.
  • Establish clear, meaningful limits on precarious work by adopting a “hard cap” on palm oil growers’ use of casual, temporary, and day labour at no more than 20% of the workforce, as adopted by the Palm Oil Innovation Group (6.2.7). Ensure that all persons working on the plantation, including family members, are recognized through direct work contracts with the company (6.2.2).
  • Include strict standards on working hours and overtime and assurance that a decent living wage is paid to all workers regardless of production targets or employment status (6.2.6). Advocate that the RSPO adopts a credible methodology to calculate a living wage based on the Global Living Wage Coalition and the principle that a living wage is a negotiated wage. Ensure that relevant stakeholders are consulted in the crafting of baselines and formulas for a living wage, and that independent trade unions or when absent, other independent workers’ representatives are involved in every step of the process leading up to a negotiated living wage.
  • Do not accept palm oil from lands taken through ‘eminent domain’ (lands expropriated by the State in the national interest) (4.5.7).
  • Include clearer, stronger protective provisions for human rights defenders in 4.1.1, including procedures and mechanisms to ensure protection from threats, intimidation and/or violence. Advocate that the proposed RSPO protocol on human rights defenders (which is separate from the P&C) align with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, is made available for public comment and is monitored closely after adoption (4.2.1).

Aligning with ‘No Exploitation’ standards requires the RSPO to be more inclusive and beneficial to smallholders

The current proposal includes improvements regarding the responsibility of mills towards their smallholder supply bases, particularly for the schemes under their control. Additionally, a simplified P&C has been developed for independent smallholders, i.e. those who have operational control over their own land use. The simplified P&C for independent smallholders is based on the assumption that bringing more smallholders into the RSPO will enable better environmental and socio-economic performance. While there is a strong basis for this assumption, various proposals still need to be taken fundamentally further.

RSPO members and Consumer Goods Manufacturing Companies should insist on revisions to the P&C that:

  • Include a more participative role for smallholders, irrespective of type, in management planning (3.1.1) to materialise the “partnership” models’ original community developmental intentions. For new plantings and replanting land related human rights impacts (3.4.1) should be better covered, as well as possibilities for smallholder productivity increases through replanting (to be more prominently included in 3.5.1). Particular attention should be paid to the specific mitigation/restoration challenges faced by smallholders on peatlands (7.8.4/7.8.5).
  • Ensure the service provision to smallholders is more transparent about cost implications such as any deductions from FFB price paid (5.1.2), including any systems set up to save for the replanting phase.
  • Ensure the gender committee addresses different roles and needs for men and women in land use, smallholder issues and labour (6.1.5).
  • For the Smallholder P&Cs, advocate the indicators are released for public comment and better substantiated assumptions are established by conducting scenario studies to help understand the best balance between controlling long term impact on deforestation versus larger smallholder inclusion and aggregate positive environmental benefits.

Next steps

This is a critical moment for the RSPO. Its members have pledged NDPE palm oil supply chains by 2020, and this is the only chance to review the P&C between now and 2020. If the RSPO does not act now to bring the P&C into line with NDPE standards, then it will forgo its ability to contribute to the implementation of a growing number of its members’ NDPE policies.

In this next round of public consultation of the P&C, we expect all RSPO members, consumer goods manufacturing companies and other end users of palm oil to leverage your company’s public support for strong revisions by submitting comments consistent with the recommendations above to the RSPO and requiring your suppliers to do the same. The final revised P&C’s will be voted on by members at the RSPO General Assembly in November 2018.

It is critical that buyers insist that the RSPO also strengthens its auditing systems to include best practices and enhanced mechanisms to enforce its standards. Priority best practices in social auditing need to focus on both human and labour rights. Enhanced mechanisms must include the enforcement of consistent sanctions against member companies that violate the RSPO Principles and Criteria and Code of Conduct. Without enforcement, the RSPO certification will not succeed offering credible NDPE assurances to the marketplace.



1.     Action Alliance Rainforest instead of Palm Oil

2.     Appui pour l’Environnement et le Développement (APED)

3.     A Rocha Ghana

4.     ARDO

5.     Brainforest

6.     Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP)

7.     Centre pour l’Environnement et le Developpement (CED)

8.     Centre pour le développement local et alternatif (CEDLA)

9.     Cercle pour les Droits de l’Homme et le Developpement (CDHD)

10.  Civic Response

11.  Conservation Foundation

12.  EcoCare Ghana

13.  Environmental Protection Association of Ghana

14.  Femmes Forêt Développement (FFD)

15.  Forest Watch Ghana

16.  FNV Mondiaal

17.  Friends of the Earth Japan

18.  Grassroots

19.  Green Development Advocates (Cameroon)

20.  Green Earth Organization

21.  Greenpeace

22.  Hutan, Alam dan Lingkungan Aceh (HAkA)

23.  Institut Cerveau Vert 2063

24.  International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF)

25.  Japan Tropical Forest Action Network(JATAN)

26.  Jaringan Advokasi Sosial dan Lingkungan (JASOIL) Tanah Papua

27.  Lembaga Studi dan Advokasi Masyarakat (ELSAM)

28.  LinkAR Borneo

29.  Maison de l’Enfant et de la Femme Pygmées (MEFP)



30.  Mighty Earth

31.  Muyissi Environment

32.  Nature Ghana

33.  New Generation Concern

34.  Observavatoire Congolais des Droits de l’Homme (OCDH)

35.  Organisasi Penguatan Dan Pengembangan Usaha-Usaha Kerakyatan (OPPUK)

36.  Orangutan Information Centre (OIC)

37.  Orangutans in Peril (Orang-Utans in Not e.V.)

38.  Oxfam

39.  Palm Oil Consumer Action

40.  Palm Oil Investigations

41.  Pals of the Earth Ghana

42.  Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific (PANAP)

43.  Plantation Watch

44.  Promag Network

45.  Rainforest Action Network (RAN)

46.  Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN)

47.  RECA

48.  Reseau des Oraganisations de la Société Civile pour le Developpement du Tonkpi (ROSCIDET)

49.  Sarawak Campaign Committee(SCC)

50.  Sawit Watch

51.  Say No to Palm Oil (SNTPO)

52.  Scale Up

53.  Strategic Youth Network for Development

54.  Struggle to Economize Future Environment (SEFE)

55.  Sum of Us

56.  Tenaganita

57.  The Development Institute

58.  Verite

59.  Watch Indonesia!

60.  West Papua Network (Westpapua- Netzwerk)

61.  Wetlands International

62.  Yayasan Madani




[1] Low Density Forest (YDF) and Young Regenerating Forest (YRF), two out of the four categories of High Carbon Stock forest

[2] Note: The RSPO Principles and Criteria Draft 2 cites these HFC countries.

[3] Histosol are soils with cumulative organic layer(s) comprising more than half of the upper 80cm or 100cm of the soil surface containing 35% or more of organic matter (35% or more Loss on Ignition) or 18% or more organic carbon.


ABP, World’s Fifth Largest Pension Fund, Divests from Forest Destroyer, But Retains Stake in Parent Company

Following a major outcry in the Netherlands, the world’s fifth largest pension fund –  the Dutch national pension fund ABP – has announced that it is divesting €300,000 from a Korean company, Posco Daewoo, which has destroyed 66,718 acres of pristine rainforests in Papua, Indonesia for palm oil plantations.

Unfortunately, ABP is maintaining its much larger €157 million investment in Posco Daewoo’s parent company, Posco.

“Less than half a million dollars is chump change for a company like Posco,” said Glenn Hurowitz, Mighty Earth CEO. “ABP needs to stop greenwashing and get serious about fighting deforestation.”

In 2015, the Norwegian Pension Fund divested from both Posco Daewoo and Posco following a thorough investigation by its Ethics Council.

“Norway got it right – Posco’s massive deforestation and land grabbing isn’t something to play games with,” said Rolf Schipper, Campaign Leader Forests at Milieudefensie. “If ABP wants to be seen as a responsible trustee of Dutch resources, they have to stop financing rogue actors like Posco, period.”

ABP, which has €347 billion in assets under management, has been under intense pressure from the Dutch public following a series of media exposés about its financing of Posco’s deforestation, including an in-depth feature on the national television show Kassa in May.

Posco has also been under intense pressure in its home country of South Korea for deforestation and human rights abuse that casts aspersions on the reputation of Korean industry worldwide.

Hye Lyn Kim, International Cooperation Campaigner at Korea Federation for Environmental Movements, said: “It’s time for Posco Daewoo to turn over a new leaf and commit to a permanent end to its role in the destruction of the world’s priceless rainforests. The company should take immediate action and join the growing list of progressive plantation companies which have already adopted comprehensive zero deforestation policies.”

In an article in Politico Europe, Posco Daewoo committed to “not clear any more trees ‘until a professional consulting firm in a field of environmental management gives proper advice on the area.’” However, the company has refused to make the kind of permanent commitment to No Deforestation that almost all major palm oil companies are implementing – making it an outlier on environmental protection.

Photographs and video of Posco Daewoo oil palm operations in Papua: Download here.

Dutch pension fund exposed on national TV for financing Posco Daewoo's rainforest destruction

On May 5th, a national TV consumer show in the Netherlands, Kassa, ran a 16-minute segment exposing the Dutch Pension Fund’s financing of Posco Daewoo, a Korean trading conglomerate that has destroyed over 270 square kilometers of pristine rainforests in Papua, Indonesia to grow palm oil.  Mighty Earth, Friends of the Earth Netherlands/Milieudefensie, and the Korea Federation for Environmental Movements have been calling upon the Dutch pension fund (ABP, and its Asset Manager, APG) to take action on Posco Daewoo.  Despite months of attempting constructive engagement by APG, Posco Daewoo has failed to follow through on its promises to reform.  As this story makes clear, it is past time for the Dutch pension fund and other global financial institutions to withdraw their support of Posco Daewoo and its parent company, Posco.  For further information, see this feature story, "Largest Dutch Pension Fund Involved in Clearing Rainforest", in the Dutch magazine One World, by Leontien Aarnoudse.

View the original segment here.


Korindo Group Still Destroying Pristine Rainforest in Papua

While the Korindo Group has enacted a temporary moratorium on new deforestation on its oil palm plantations, it has been quietly but steadily destroying areas of pristine rainforest in one of its logging concessions in Papua, PT Inocin Abadi (PT IA).

Recent satellite imagery shown below reveals that in 2017, Korindo constructed a major network of logging roads and conducted intensive logging within this 100,000 hectare concession, degrading an area of over 3,000 hectares of pristine rainforest. Satellite imagery from November 2017 to January 2018 shows that Korindo has started extending a major logging access road further into a new frontier of pristine forest and has started logging in the vicinity of this road. This indicates that Korindo plans to continue expanding its logging operations deeper into areas of pristine rainforest.

Korindo’s logging concession sits right on top of a pristine rainforest. In 2016, over 93% of this logging concession was covered with 80% canopy cover forest. Over half the concession was mapped as part of an Intact Forest Landscape in 2013. In total, Korindo has already built logging roads over an area of approximately 15,000 hectares of rainforest since it started developing the concession in 2014. In addition, PT IA is located adjacent to one of Korindo’s oil palm concessions, PT Papua Agro Lestari, where it has already cleared over 4,800 hectares of pristine rainforest that is part of the same Intact Forest Landscape.

In response to Mighty Earth’s campaign, Korindo is trying to convince its customers and the marketplace that it is operating sustainably without destroying more rainforest. These images prove this to be untrue.

Despite a revamped public relations effort, Korindo has failed to take meaningful action to stop rainforest clearance across its operations. It has refused to announce and implement a comprehensive Group-wide No Deforestation, No Peat, and No Exploitation policy, aligned with the High Carbon Stock Approach methodology, that applies to both its oil palm and logging operations. And it has refused to restore forests and ecosystems it has destroyed or resolve its grievances with local communities. No matter how much green it puts on its website, Korindo remains a high-risk supplier of both palm oil and wood products.

Location and concession boundary of PT Inocin Abadi, as well as other Korindo Group logging concessions (in red) and oil palm concessions (in orange).[1]
Sentinel image of the northeast section of PT IA from December 4, 2016. The area outlined in yellow has not yet been developed. See an interactive version of this map here.


Sentinel image of the northeast section of PT IA from December 24, 2017. The area outlined in yellow, covering over 3,000 hectares, is now fully marked up by new logging roads. See an interactive version of this map here.


Close up of the 2017 logging area outlined in yellow, using Planet Labs [2] satellite imagery from December 24, 2017.
'Planet Labs'[3] satellite image from 28 January 2017, which indicates that Korindo is continuing to extend a main logging road further into a new area of rainforest, and has started logging in the vicinity of this road.
Heavy machinery and logs block access to Korindo's PT Inocin Abadi logging concession. @MightyEarth, June 2016


Sign post for PT Inocin Abadi. @MightyEarth, June 2016

Caption for featured photo: Trucks carrying logs from Korindo's PT Inocin Abadi logging concession. @MightyEarth, June 2016.



[1] The source of the boundary of PT Inocin Abadi is the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry, 30 September 2014. See also:


[3] ibid

Activists in South Korea Rally Against Indonesian Rainforest Destruction by Korean Conglomerate POSCO Daewoo

Mighty Earth joined with The Korea Federation for Environmental Movements (KFEM), Korea’s largest environmental NGO, at a rally in Gwanghwamun North Square in Seoul, South Korea on Monday, July 31st, to demand that the Korean conglomerate POSCO Daewoo stop destroying Indonesian rainforest on its palm oil plantation in Papua.

Over a dozen activists participated in a street performance, in which they linked arms to defend the forest against a masked man holding a chainsaw representing POSCO Daewoo.  The activists held a banner that read, in both Korean and English, “POSCO Daewoo, Stop Destroying Indonesian Rainforest,” against a giant backdrop of palm oil-driven deforestation in Papua, Indonesia taken from Mighty Earth’s field investigation into Korindo and POSCO Daewoo in June 2016.

The rally followed a meeting between Mighty, KFEM and representatives from POSCO Daewoo that took place the previous business day.  At the meeting, Mighty and KFEM asked POSCO Daewoo to immediately stop their deforestation of pristine rainforest. POSCO Daewoo failed to make any specific commitments and instead said it needed to “study” the matter further despite several years of stakeholders urging an end to its deforestation.  

“POSCO Daewoo is trying to buy itself time to finish its forest clearing,” said Deborah Lapidus, Campaign Director at Mighty Earth.  “At the rate they are clearing, there will be no forest left by the time the company is done studying--and that’s surely their strategy.” Already, POSCO Daewoo’s bulldozers have cleared over 26,500 hectares of forest–half the size of Seoul, South Korea–in its 34,195 hectare concession.  What’s more, the pace of clearing has been accelerating; the company cleared 2,400 ha in the first four months of this year alone and over 10,000 ha since September 2015. Unconscionably, the international consulting firm PWC has given POSCO Daewoo’s deforestation a green stamp of approval. 

The land POSCO Daewoo is clearing to make way for its palm oil plantation, called PT Bio Inti Agrindo (PT BIA), is home to indigenous communities, as well as threatened and endangered species including tree kangaroos and birds of paradise.  According to BIA’s original business plans, obtained by Mighty, the entire area was covered by virgin rainforests prior to clearing.  The company estimated that it would make US$162 million just from selling the high value timber it cleared in the process of setting up the plantation.  The ancient rainforests being bulldozed by POSCO Daewoo are also incredibly carbon rich and essential to curbing global climate change.   

“Unfortunately, two Korean companies have established sprawling palm oil operations in Papua and are clearing forests at a vast scale,” said Ms. Lapidus to an assembled crowd of newspaper photographers and participants at Monday’s rally. “You might recall when we were here last year to expose Korindo’s forest destruction.  Right next to Korindo’s plantations is an immense zone of destruction that is owned by POSCO Daewoo, one of Korea’s premier companies. Despite the enormous ecological value of these areas, POSCO decided that it was happy to destroy them to create a giant monoculture plantation.  We are not seeing many companies act in such an egregious manner anymore but POSCO’s bulldozers are still operating.”  

Rally participants called on POSCO Daewoo to declare an immediate moratorium on all new forest clearing, to commit to a No Deforestation and No Exploitation policy aligned with the industry standard High Carbon Stock Approach, and to invest in restoration to repair its past damage.  

“POSCO Daewoo has done an incredible amount of damage in a short amount of time. It is undermining other companies’ progress on forest conservation and damaging its own brand and reputation around the world across its diverse businesses,” commented Glenn Hurowitz, Mighty Earth’s CEO, at the rally.  “All this deforestation is bad for its business.”

Just as POSCO Daewoo’s mill has become operational in the first quarter of 2017, the world’s largest palm oil buyers have stated they will exclude POSCO Daewoo and BIA’s palm oil from their supply chains because it violates their own No Deforestation and No Exploitation commitments.  

Investors are also pulling away from POSCO Daewoo over its deforestation.  The Norwegian Pension Fund, the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, with more than $1 trillion in assets, commissioned an in-depth study into POSCO Daewoo’s activities, and found that the company’s practices were so egregious that they withdrew their investments in August 2015.  Hermes Investment has encouraged POSCO Daewoo to work with stakeholders to rapidly address this issue.  And POSCO Daewoo risks losing financing from several of its financial backers, including HSBC and BNP Paribas, which have both have announced No Deforestation financing policies.

Speaking at the rally, Choony Kim, Vice Executive Director of KFEM said, "Almost 7,700 hectares of tropical forests still remain on the site of POSCO Daewoo. In order for POSCO Daewoo to clean past mistakes and to compete fairly in the global market, it is necessary to immediately declare a moratorium on new land development in the remaining tropical forests. Also, efforts should be made to restore damaged forests and ecosystems.”


Palm Oil Producer POSCO Daewoo dropped by UK drugstore chain Boots over deforestation, claims to have temporarily suspended forest clearing

The UK’s largest drugstore retailer, Boots, reports that it has ended a retail partnership with POSCO Daewoo, following a letter sent by Mighty Earth and the Korea Federation for Environmental Movements to parent company Walgreens Boots Alliance that highlighted POSCO Daewoo’s role in driving deforestation and called on the company to take action. Mighty Earth’s satellite imagery and field investigation found that Posco Daewoo has cleared a vast area of over 27,500 hectares (275 square kilometers) of forest at its PT Bio Inti Agrindo (PT BIA) palm oil plantation in Papua, Indonesia.

“In 2016, two brands which were supplied by POSCO were placed on the market for a trial period in 180 Boots UK stores. Since then, and in line with our commitment to halting deforestation, we have terminated the relationship and withdrawn the products from shelves, including,” a Boots representative told Mighty Earth in an email response.

In addition, POSCO Daewoo has allegedly instituted a temporary moratorium on new forest clearing. According to a recent Politico Europe article, a spokeswoman for POSCO Daewoo, said the company “will not clear any more trees ‘until a professional consulting firm in a field of environmental management gives proper advice on the area.’”

“POSCO Daewoo has been clearing pristine rainforest at a pace unlike almost anything we’ve seen in the past few years,” said Deborah Lapidus, Campaign Director with Mighty Earth. “We’ll believe they stopped clearing when we see it. There hasn’t even been an official public announcement of the move.”

Satellite map showing Posco Daewoo's deforestation at its BT BIA palm oil concession in Papua, Indonesia, as of January 18th, 2018. Forest clearance totals 27,368 hectares, with just over 7,000 hectares of forest remaining. For an interactive version of this map, click here.

POSCO Daewoo is facing mounting pressure from its business partners, the marketplace, and investors to end its deforestation.

Mighty Earth has monitored POSCO Daewoo’s operations in Papua, Indonesia since 2016 through satellite mapping, field investigations, and on-the-ground interviews. The area is the third largest rainforest in the world, home to numerous indigenous communities as well as threatened and endangered species including tree kangaroos and birds of paradise.

In the spring of 2017, as POSCO Daewoo’s first palm oil mill opened and began selling palm oil to global markets, Mighty Earth alerted the world’s largest palm oil buyers to POSCO Daewoo’s deforestation, and received over fifty commitments from major traders and consumer brands, including Boots, that they would not buy POSCO Daewoo’s palm oil because it did not comply with their No Deforestation commitments.

Animation showing deforestation by POSCO Daewoo from February 2017 until January 2018.

In August 2015, the Norwegian Pension Fund, the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, excluded POSCO Daewoo from its portfolio following an independent analysis that concluded that “there is an unacceptable risk that Daewoo, and thus also its parent company POSCO, may be responsible for severe environmental damage in connection with the conversion of tropical forest into oil palm plantations in Indonesia.”

“POSCO Daewoo and other companies that continue to destroy the world’s last ancient rainforests are not only facing enormous losses in the marketplace, but they’re putting their entire business operations in jeopardy around the world,” said Lapidus.  “As Boots has demonstrated, responsible companies do not want to put their brands at risk by being associated with supporting forest destruction.  We applaud Boots’ quick action, and hope it will establish better due diligence to screen future retail partners.”


Mighty Earth and Olam Renew Agreement

The World Resources Institute (WRI) moderated a meeting between Mighty Earth and Olam on January 17th 2018, to discuss progress on commitments made by both parties at a similar meeting in January 2017, related to Olam’s plantations in Gabon and its Palm Products trading business. It was acknowledged that the last agreement had been respected and that significant progress has been made across the board. Olam and Mighty Earth agreed on a number of new commitments demonstrating their shared interest in developing sustainable agriculture.

For Palm Products sourcing, both parties agreed to support broader industry moves to improve compliance of suppliers with no-deforestation commitments, and Olam will continue its drive towards greater transparency, engagement and verification with its own suppliers. On its oil palm and rubber operations in Gabon, Olam agreed to wait for the resolution of questions on the application of HCS (High Carbon Stock) methodologies in Gabon for a further year.

Olam shared the progress it has made on its forthcoming global cross-commodities sustainability policy and Mighty agreed to explore conservation and restoration initiatives related to this policy. On Cocoa, Olam reiterated its commitment to halting deforestation across its origins worldwide and both parties affirmed their support for the Cocoa and Forests Initiative.

Mighty Earth and Olam will continue to engage on areas of mutual interest and resolve issues through a process of dialogue.

This palm oil company promised destruction - and it delivered.

The palm oil industry has become notorious for deforestation and abuse of indigenous communities. Some companies have made progress in addressing these issues through the adoption and implementation of strong forest conservation and human rights policies. However, deforestation is continuing across Indonesia because of rogue companies that are attempting to evade these new environmental and social requirements on a vast scale.


We’ve always thought these companies knew exactly what they were doing, knew the damage their wholesale destruction of forests would do to ecosystems and communities. But it’s rare to see explicit proof of companies’ foreknowledge of the massive impacts they cause. However, exactly that type of proof recently fell into Mighty Earth’s lap.


We recently received the social and environmental impact assessment that was submitted to the Indonesian government in 2009 as part of the permitting process for establishing a 39,000 hectare palm oil plantation called PT Bio Inti Agrindo (PT BIA). The plantation is located in Papua, Indonesia’s largest remaining intact rainforest. The plantation is now owned by the South Korean conglomerate POSCO Daewoo. All palm oil companies in Indonesia are required to submit these assessments, known as “AMDALs”, but rarely are these AMDALs seen by the public.


Throughout the assessment, the company explicitly acknowledges the devastating impacts its development would have on the environment and on the local community. What’s truly sad is that all of the impacts the company anticipated came true. Unfortunately, the Indonesian government licensed PT BIA for development despite the consequences detailed in the assessment, underscoring the leniency of the Indonesian Government’s permitting process for palm oil and other industrial development at the time.


There are dozens of pages of anticipated negative impacts listed in the report. Among the most shocking:

  • Polluting the Bian and Fly Rivers with toxic waste, despite acknowledging that the community uses these rivers daily for drinking, bathing, and fishing. While it does state an intent to build a wastewater treatment facility, the report acknowledges that the pollution levels are likely to exceed the facility's capacity.
  • Destroying the habitat of several protected species, including the tree kangaroo, through the conversion of native forest to monoculture plantation.
  • Increasing the risk for severe public health impacts like the spread of malaria, ISPA (acute respiratory tract infection), and diarrhea due to the water pollution and ecosystem changes.
  • Constructing the palm oil plantation on customary lands.
  • Spurring social restlessness, conflict and anarchy.




See below for selected excerpts:





Result of impact identification and prediction as spelled out in the document of Reference Framework on Environmental Impact Analysis (KA-ANDAL) is that the subject matters of impact due to this activity plan of oil palm plantation project construction and the construction plan of PT Bio Inti Agrindo’s processing plant, in Papua province are as follows:

  • (1)  the degradation of Bian River’s and Fly River’s water quality
  • (2)  the increasing rate of soil erosion
  • (3)  the disturbance to protected Flora /vegetation and Fauna/wild animals
  • (4)  local community’s complaint and restlessness (community’s perception)
  • (5)  community’s health”



PT BIA outlined the expected intensity and duration of the impact of its development as follows (bold font added for emphasis):




“•       The use of local people’s communal right on land: temporary, during the commencement period of construction

  • The upgrade of dust’s degree: every day, during the activity period (25 years) 

  • The degradation of water quality due to PKS waste: every day, during the activity period (25 years) 

  • The increase of boar and rat pest: 5-6 years during the commencement 
period of construction
  • The damage of road due to excess load of CPO: every day, during the activity period (25 years) 


The nature of community’s perception impact (complaints and restlessness) above if the source of impact is not managed well, it is estimated to occur a conflict and social anarchy.”




In reference to the impact on community health specifically, PT BIA expected:




“The nature of impact of oil palm plantation and processing plant construction activity plan on community’s health parameter is deemed as a negative impact. The oil palm plantation activity and the dumping of liquid waste into Bian and Fly rivers will have an impact on the health of those communities using the rivers for daily purpose. This will trigger the emergence of various diseases such as malaria, ISPA (acute respiratory tract infection), and diarrhea.


The emergence of malaria disease is based on such considerations like among others the disturbance of mosquito habitat existing at the project site and the entry of occupants who are in general susceptible to malaria disease.


The intensity of impact will occur continuously until the end of activity.

The other environmental component going to suffer the impact of this community’s health is social restlessness (community’s perception). By the degradation of community’s health condition and the emergence of various diseases, it will result in social restlessness (community’s perception that tends to be negative).”



Indeed, several of these exact impacts were described to Mighty Earth in July 2017 during a meeting with Pastor Nikodemus Rumbayan MSC, Parish Pastor in Muting, one of the villages affected by PT BIA. He especially emphasized the pollution of the Bian River due to the dumping of palm oil waste, the worsening health condition of the community, and the rising social tensions due to the land conflict between indigenous clans that was spurred by PT BIA’s development. These impacts were also revealed in a recent article published in the South Korean weekly news magazine SisaIN, which was based on interviews with affected community members.


Community blockaide to stop POSCO Daewoo’s expansion in July 2014.


Bullet shells from shots fired by the military at the Indonesian flag the community protesters were holding. As PT BIA predicted, its development on customary lands and degradation of the local environment has created conflict and social unrest. Photo credit: SKP KAMe Merauke.



The environment and social impact report also admitted that the project would harm the habitat of fauna in the area of PT BIA, including several protected endangered species. Here are just a few excerpts:



“The nature of this wild animals relocation and migration impact constitutes a secondary impact due a change to the animals’ habitat function due to a change to secondary forest’s vegetation to become an open area and monoculture crops.
The subsequent impact is the migration of those animals to another area or the decrease of protected animals population in said area covering:

  • Protected animal species : cuscus (Phalanger gymnotis), tree kangaroo (Dendrologus ursinus), and deer (Cervus timorensis).
  • Protected aves species: cassowary (casuarius casuarius), fish eagle (Pandion haliaetus), big beak parakeet (tanygnathus megalorinchos), blue chest Cendrawasih (Ptiloris magnificus), and yellow crest cockatoo (cacatua galerite)
  • Protected reptile species: fresh water crocodile (Crocodilus novaeguineae), Irian turtle (Carettachelys coraceae) and lizard (Varanus gouldi).”


It describes the potential impact on these protected species as follows:



“Onshore fauna /wild animals; the construction activity of oil palm plantation as a whole is potential to degrade the quality of wild animals’ habitat existing at the study area. In addition to habitat, this activity is also potential to decrease the abundance of animals’ feed in the form of vegetation (herbivora) and animals (carnivora). In the review on wild animals preservation, it is not only the protected wild animals need to maintain, but also the other animals being the feed of carnivora that need to maintain. The activities estimated to damage wild animals’ habitat is land preparation 
(land opening) and road network building activities

Aquatic biota; as the subsequent impact of the degraded water quality is the 
degradation of aquatic biota’s habitat (plankton, nekton and benthos)”


Fish dead in the Bian River, due to the toxic pollution coming from PT BIA.


“The impact of oil palm plantation and processing plant construction activity on this wild animals is deemed as an important negative impact with significant weight of impact (-3) based on the following considerations:

(1) the loss of original vegetation will reduce the population of protected wild animals of quite wide diversity, due to the loss of their habitat functioning as a place to find feed, nesting, egging, and breeding, even though certain animals will undergo a migration out of the study area

  • (2)  the presence of outsiders working at the project area, tends to cause a potential decrease of unique wild animals, due to a demand for being owned and raised (for aves species) even for being taken their meat (deer) through hunting
  • (3)  the migration of wild animals particularly boar and rat will potentially become a pest for plants, either oil palm plant or community’s feed plant, that might impact on the death/damage of cultivation crops which shall be detrimental to the community 

  • (4)  the impact characteristic of this wild animals’ migration can be classified as permanent impact, except for mobile species (certain aves)”


“The impact of oil palm plantation construction plan on nature’s vegetation constitutes a primary impact where by total felling down system, the floristic composition in the existing land will be replaced with monoculture vegetation system. Further, since the previous existing vegetation constituted a habitat of various wild animals (protected and non-protected ones), then this impact is classified as an important impact.”



Tree kangaroo, baby in pouch, roaming the underbrush in Papua. In its environmental and social impact assessment, PT BIA acknowledged that it would destroy tree kangaroo habitat and have a perminant negative impact on the species and other protected species in the area. Photo credit: Bustar Maitar


While it’s impossible to reverse all of the damage its already caused, POSCO Daewoo must immediately enact a moratorium on forest clearing in order to do no further harm, adopt a comprehensive group-level No Deforestation, No Peat, and No Exploitation policy, and undertake credible sustainability assessments (High Carbon Stock and High Conservation Value) aligned with the industry benchmark for responsible production, the High Carbon Stock Approach. In addition, POSCO Daewoo must take responsibility for the negative impacts PT BIA knowingly brought to the environment and communities in Papua. It should invest in extensive forest restoration, clean up the Bian and Fly rivers until water quality is restored to its original condition, and seek to resolve the social conflicts it has spurred to the satisfaction of the community.

This case also raises questions about whether exciting licenses should be reviewed and, in instances where companies have inflicted significant harm to community health and wellbeing, peatlands, or Indonesia’s dwindling rainforests, revoked.








Photo credit: Mighty Earth


Credit: Mighty Earth, June 2016



To read the full social impact assessment, click here.



Caption for banner image: According to Pastor Nikodemus Rumbayan MSC, Parish Pastor in Muting, the village Chief’s wife had to go to the hospital after bathing in the water because her skin broke out in rashes. She was urged to keep quiet about the incident.

Photo Credit: SKP KAMe Merauke