Greenpeace and RSPO spar over role of RSPO members in air pollution crisis



Posted on 21 August 2013  | 
Greenpeace and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) were recently caught up in a spat over the origin of fires that blanketed much of Sumatra, Singapore, and parts of Malaysia in June.

In early July, media outlets identified several members of the RSPO as possible culprits in the fires in Riau Province. The RSPO demanded that 5 member companies named in media reports submit maps of their concessions to prove that they were not involved in burning. A follow-up analysis revealed that only a handful of hotspots were found in the plantation areas for GAR and Sime Darby.

Reacting to the analysis, Greenpeace issued a statement that the 5 member companies weren't the ones with the most fire hotspots and that RSPO's analysis “glossed over decades of forest clearance and peatlands drainage that set the stage for the most recent fires”. The RSPO confronted Greenpeace on its statement, highlighting reports that the palm oil sector had only contributed to 20% of the fires in Sumatra and that the pulp and paper plantations had been identified as having significantly more fires than the oil palm plantations.

A recent study by the World Agroforestry Centre suggests that is even harder to identify precisely which parties are at the source of the fires. While subsistence slash-and-burn farmers and industrial plantation developers have been mostly blamed for the recent fires, the study suggests that a third category of land users — 'mid-level entrepreneurs' — may be in part responsible for the haze.

Mongabay.com, World Agroforestry Centre
Haze and fire in Pulau Rupat, Riau, Sumatra
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