One of the biggest palm oil producers Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) has partnered with international environmental group The Forest Trust (TFT) in an aim to save forest lands that store a good amount of carbon. The said partnership goes beyond the existing policies set by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), whereby clearing up of forests to give way to palm oil plantations has been prohibited and that permit to undertake such measures is required from local inhabitants. In fact, under the deal, GAR will not plant on peat lands or clear forests where there are a lot of carbon-rich trees. This is TFT and GAR’s way of taking the lead in the controversial issue on palm oil plantations destroying lush forests and other wildlife. Before this agreement, TFT has in fact partnered with food-company giant Nestle earlier this year to guarantee that palm oil produce is harnessed without any tinge of deforestation.
Furthermore, this move of GAR is seen as a move to battle the numerous criticisms it has received from environmental groups being the second largest producer of palm oil in the world. To change its bad reputation, GAR now vows to play its part in conserving forests in Indonesia and likewise doing its share in addressing the country’s need for development primarily in terms of employment and shareholder value. Moreover, while the RSPO’s main concern has always been on companies’ compliance, GAR and TFT guarantees that they will live up to their promises. The environmental group Greenpeace lauded the said deal, which they claim will trickle down to other players in the industry. Instead of looking into tapping new lands to be converted to palm oil plantations, the agreement focuses on boosting productivity, which the group claimed to address the main issue at hand.