The production of palm oil has come under sustained criticism for its destruction of forests, biodiversity and wider environmental values. More lately, the industry has also been targeted to prevent the massive greenhouse gas emissions from its forest clearance and from drainage and planting on peatlands. Under pressure from local and international campaigning groups, the palm oil giant Golden Agri Resources has adopted a new Forest Conservation Policy that promises no clearance of tall forests and no planting on peat. What are the implications of this new policy for forest peoples?
Recognition of the social and environmental impacts of large-scale land conversion to monoculture plantations such as oil palm has led to numerous voluntary sustainability standards, including the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), to adopt the concept of High Conservation Values (HCVs). These are defined as the critical social and environmental values in ecosystems and landscapes that long-term multi-stakeholder processes have collectively identified as the key values to be conserved and enhanced in the management of natural systems.