Firms agree to close Ketapang case

PETALING JAYA: IOI Group and sustainability consultant Aidenvironment have mutually agreed to close the Ketapang complaint case, which led to a temporary suspension of IOI’s Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil’s (RSPO) certification earlier this year.

“Aidenvironment has raised all other matters with IOI for perusal and declares that it has no further standing issues with IOI related to the Ketapang case. The above declaration has been achieved with IOI Group, independent of RSPO decisions,” both parties said in a joint statement last Friday. The complaint case filed by Aidenvironment alleged deforestation in IOI concessions in Ketapang, West Kalimantan.

The closure of the case follows Aidenvironment’s verification visit at IOI’s plantation development in Ketapang from Sept 2 till Sept 5, 2016. The two parties said the final three issues raised in Aidenvironment’s complaint have been settled.

Aidenvironment previously said the final resolution of the complaint hinged on IOI commencing the removal of all overplanted oil palms, upon confirmation of the local government order to do so by November 2009. The removal includes all plantings thereafter.

In terms of overplanting, IOI said PT BNS will immediately abandon 434ha of land, which was cleared and planted between 2010 and 2014. The move is in line with an instruction issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of Indonesia.

To recap, IOI received a letter from the ministry in October 2016 stating a change from non-forestry land to forestry land in December 2013.

Following a re-survey, it was confirmed in September 2014 that out of a total area of 11,800ha applied for by PT BNS, there was an overlap with Danau Manis Mata Production Forest amounting to 1,638ha.

Aidenvironment and IOI’s joint analysis subsequently confirmed that the overlap comprise of 1,204ha (723ha of oil palm plantations and 481ha of other land), which was abandoned in 2011 and another 434ha of land, cleared and planted between 2010 and 2014, was still managed by PT BNS during the joint field visit in September 2016.

PT BNS will abandon the 434ha until such a time as there are new ministerial instructions regarding the said land.

In terms of RSPO new planting procedures (NPP), a joint analysis of the chronology of land development confirmed that land development in PT SKS and PT BNS, which began in 2009, had straddled the RSPO NPP’s cut-off date of Jan 1, 2010.

“Therefore, IOI was required by RSPO to only comply with ‘on-going planting’ NPPs. IOI agrees with Aidenvironment that had we been required to follow the full NPP requirements, it would likely have revealed, at a much earlier stage, the non-compliances occurring at that time,” said IOI.

In addition, it said it will not market the palm oil produced from PT BNS and the affected areas of PT SKS with the RSPO certification claims for the duration of one planting cycle, although it will still certify PT BNS and SKS under the RSPO time-bound plan.

“IOI regrets not having taken necessary actions to be in full compliance with RSPO’s rules at all times. In view of the company’s commitment to break with the past, IOI agrees to settle the outstanding issues with Aidenvironment,” it said.