Growing global demand for palm oil is fuelling the large-scale expansion of oil palm plantations across Southeast Asia and Africa. Concerns about the environmental and social impacts of the conversion of vast tracts of land to monocrop plantations led in 2004 to the establishment of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which encourages oil palm expansion in ways that do not destroy high conservation values or cause social conflict. Numerous international agencies have also called for reforms of national frameworks to secure communities’ rights and to develop sound land governance.
This report provides an account of a short investigation carried out by the RSPO's Ad Hoc Working Group on High Conservation Values in Indonesia. It is being circulated to promote comprehension and discussion about the legal and procedural obstacles to securing such values in the oil palm sector in Indonesia with the view to promoting changes and legal reforms in order to secure these values more effectively. This version includes detailed comments on the report by Wilmar International.
Companies in Indonesia have been allegedly clearing designated 'High Conservation Value (HCV) areas', rather than managing them appropriately in order to maintain or enhance the identified values of the area. HCV areas include areas important for communities' livelihoods, identities and environmental services.
This report summarises the findings of a field investigation and legal study which shows how voluntary efforts by companies to set aside areas for community livelihoods and for conservation are being frustrated by the ill-fit between the RSPO's procedures - using the 'High Conservation Values' approach - and national laws and procedures. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is to meet in Kuala Lumpur from 1-4 November 2009.