Resources

Liberia: Agri-business expansion threatens forests and local communities’ livelihoods

Agri-business expansion in Africa is a major threat to the forests and livelihoods of African peoples. Where governance is weak and the rights of local communities and indigenous peoples are insecure, agricultural development is disadvantaging local people.

Awareness of the social and ecological impact of agri-business expansion in South East Asia has led to new standards for acceptable palm oil development. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a third-party voluntary certification process, has adopted a set of Principles and Criteria that is substantially consistent with a rights-based approach, and which seeks to divert palm oil expansion away from primary forests and areas of critical High Conservation Value (HCV) while prohibiting the takeover of customary lands without communities’ Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). Increasingly, adherence to the RSPO standard is becoming a requirement for access to the European market and major palm oil producing conglomerates seeking to maintain market share are now members of the RSPO.

Making Palm Oil Accountable?

Globally oil palm plantations continue to expand at a rapid rate. World leader, Indonesia, has raced past Malaysia to become the number one producer. Latest data from the Indonesian watchdog NGO, SawitWatch, suggests that oil palm plantations in Indonesia now cover 11 million hectares, up from 6 million hectares only five years ago. New plantings are spreading to the smaller islands of the archipelago and to the less developed areas of eastern Indonesia. Hopes that a Presidential promise of a 2 year moratorium on forest clearance would slow the crop’s expansion – part of a deal to reduce green house gas emissions - have also evaporated as the government has excepted areas where preliminary permits have already been handed out.