Forest Conversion News No. 28 - December 2010 | WWF
Forest Conversion News No. 28 - December 2010

Posted on 20 December 2010

Forest Conversion News focuses on the expansion of palm oil and soy.


Forest Conversion News focuses on the expansion of palm oil and soy.



Consumer goods industry announces goal of zero deforestation at UN Climate Summit in Cancun

The Board of Consumer Goods Forum (BCGF) has pledged to mobilize members’ collective resources to help achieve zero net deforestation by 2020.

The pledge was announced at the UN Climate Summit in Cancun, where the BCGF stated that the goal will be met both by individual actions within companies and collective action, including partnerships with NGOs, development banks, and governments.

The deforestation resolution states that the BCGF will work with stakeholders to fund "mechanisms and other practical schemes that will incentivise and assist forested countries to conserve their natural assets and enable them to achieve the goal of zero net deforestation, whilst at the same time meeting their goals for economic development."

With such companies as Walmart, Unilever, Carrefour, and General Mills, BCGF is made up of 400 global consumer goods manufacturers and retailers totalling over $2.8 trillion in revenue.

RT8 shines spotlight on China and India markets for sustainable palm oil

At the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil conference in early November 2010 (RSPO RT8), several events focused on the two countries that lead the world in imports of palm oil—China and India.

On November 8, the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Foodstuffs, Native Produce and Animal by Products (CFNA) hosted a workshop for RSPO stakeholders.

As part of a collaborative project involving CFNA and UK government departments for environment (DEFRA) and international development (DFID), the workshop drew around 70 participants whose inputs will feed into a research report containing strategic policy guidance for the Chinese government on sustainable palm oil and contributing to a business case for sustainable palm oil that is relevant to Chinese companies.

Speaking at the workshop, Mr Wang Huiquan, Vice Secretary-General of CFNA, expressed assurance that a thriving market for sustainable palm oil is an achievable reality in China.

During his plenary speech later in the week, he reiterated this point and invited multi-national companies to lead the way by honouring global commitments to sustainable palm oil.

Focusing on the world’s biggest palm oil importer, WWF India’s Bhavna Prasad gave a plenary presentation on “India’s Palm Oil Sector and its Ecological Footprint.” Sharing preliminary findings from an upcoming WWF report on the Indian palm oil market, she also touched on some of the challenges and opportunities around growing sustainable palm oil in India.

In a private dinner event hosted by WWF, Cargill, Unilever and Wilmar, the need for urgent action in both markets was highlighted. Bringing together over 100 stakeholders with active interests in these countries, the networking event provided a platform for galvanizing support and sharing ideas.

M.R. Chandran, Advisor to the RSPO Executive Board, echoed remarks by CFNA’s Mr Wang that government support is essential, and that two possible ways forward could be a subsidy for companies importing sustainable palm oil or a duty on imports of unsustainable palm oil.

RSPO website RSPO appoints new Secretary General

Darrel Webber has been appointed as the new Secretary General of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

Previously, Darrel was Senior Associate of Global Sustainability Associates, a subsidiary of New Britain Palm Oil Limited (NBPOL), where he advised the NBPOL Group on implementation of the RSPO Principles & Criteria. From 2007 to 2009, he represented WWF International on the RSPO Executive Board during his role as a Senior Manager responsible for palm oil sector engagement for WWF Malaysia.

Darrel comes with extensive commercial management experience, having led large teams in a variety of sectors including oil and gas and manufacturing.

RSPO announcement RSPO unveils sustainable palm oil trademark

At its annual RT8 meeting in Jakarta, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) unveiled a trademark that will allow consumers to easily distinguish products containing certified sustainable palm ingredients sourced according to RSPO rules.

The new trademark will encourage more companies to commit to using only certified sustainable palm oil. "The RSPO trademark will reassure consumers that products they buy contribute to sustainable cultivation of palm oil and other palm products," said Jan Kees Vis, the RSPO's President.

With the supply of certified oil steadily growing, many companies have already pledged to make the switch over the course of the next five years. Product manufacturers and retail companies will be able to apply the new logo in early 2011.

Reform to Brazil forest law could reduce carbon stocks by seven billion tons

Preliminary data from a Climate Observatory study reveal that if proposed alterations to Brazil's forest law are approved, there is a potential risk that almost seven billion tons of carbon contained in native vegetation will be discharged into the atmosphere.

That represents 25.5 billion tons of greenhouse gases. Another proposed amendment foresees a reduction in the width of forest areas that must be preserved along banks of streams and rivers (from 30 m to 15 meters).

According to the Climate Observatory’s coordinator André Ferretti, “if the text is approved, Brazil’s goal of reducing national emissions of gases responsible for global warming will turn to dust and there will be countless impacts on biodiversity.”

The modifications could have serious effects on the Brazilian goals for emission reductions as specified in the National Policy on Climate Change. In Copenhagen last year, Brazil committed to cut one billion tons from its emissions in 2020.

First certification agency pre-accepted as a certification body for the RTRS Standard

After having participated in the Round Table on Responsible (RTRS) Soy Lead Auditor training course in October 2010, Schutter Argentina S.A. became the first certification body to receive preliminary RTRS accreditation.

Thus, Schutter can begin offering certification services for Chain of Custody producers or companies that wish to produce and/or commercialize RTRS certified soy.

RTRS approves voluntary supply chain annex for non-Genetically Modified (GM) soy

During the last Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) Executive Board (EB) meeting in Buenos Aires on October 19-20, 2010, the EB approved the chain of custody model for the physical flow of RTRS-certified soy.

The four approved physical supply chain modules are Segregated, Mass Balance, Multi-site, and Non-GM.

An important new element, the Non-GM supply chain, enables the purchase of soy that is both certified as responsible under the RTRS system, as well as verified as non-GM.

This new option brings added value to RTRS members whose customers require non-GM products.

Banco do Brasil joins Soy Moratorium

The Soy Work Group, which consists of representatives from the Brazilian Association of Vegetable Oil Industries (ABIOVE), the National Association of Cereal Exporters (ANEC), their member companies, civil society organizations and the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment, have approved Banco do Brasil’s application to join the Soy Moratorium, an agreement drawn up four years ago to prevent the production and marketing of soy in deforested areas of the Amazon Biome.

By joining the moratorium, Banco do Brasil commits to no longer finance soybean production in areas of the Amazon Biome that were deforested after July 2006.

In addition to no longer funding for soy production in deforested areas, Banco do Brasil will also require properties to have environmental regularization and will provide credit for the recovery of Legal Reserve and Permanent Preservation Areas.

Banco do Brazil, the largest Brazilian state-owned bank and the main financier of agribusiness in Brazil, is responsible for about 60 percent of agricultural financing (up to 80 percent in the case of homestead farming) and provides services to about 5,200 Brazilian towns.

RSPO Grievance Panel reviews allegations of non-compliance by RSPO member

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Grievance Panel had reviewed allegations of non-compliance with RSPO’s regulations with regard to PT Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology Tbk (“SMART”), a member of the RSPO.

The parties agreed that PT SMART would develop concrete action plans to address all the issues raised by the Grievance Panel by March 2011. At that point the RSPO will take a decision as to whether it will reinstate PT SMART’s membership.

As an outcome of that meeting, Daud Dharsono, President Director of SMART, committed that the company “will work with the RSPO to ensure that the concerns raised in the letters are addressed, and ensure full compliance with the RSPO Principles and Criteria.”

PT Golden Agri-Resources, which owns PT SMART, has confirmed that it intends to seek full ordinary membership of the RSPO, effectively committing all its subsidiaries to the RSPO Code of Conduct and certification processes.

Version 2 of the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels standard approved

After two months of consultation (RSB members and public), the Steering Board of the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB) approved Version 2.0 of the RSB Principles & Criteria (P&Cs) and related guidance.

Discussions focused on the meaning of Free Prior & Informed Consent (FPIC); the application of earlier cut-off dates from other feedstock-specific standards (e.g. for palm oil or wood), which are recognised and form a binding requirement; and implementation of criterion 3c—GHG savings.

The fossil fuel baseline was approved as a global average, which will be recalculated every five years. The RSB will work towards the development of a greenhouse gas trading system for compliance with criterion 3c.

The RSB certification scheme will be officially rolled out between January and February 2011.

RSPO-certified palm oil capacity doubled since last year

Annual production capacity of Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)-certified sustainable palm oil jumped over the 3,000,000 tonnes mark in September 2010, showing the steepest increase thus far since certification began in August 2008.

With current global palm oil production projected to be about 46.6 million tonnes annually, approximately 6.4 percent of all palm oil production is now RSPO-certified, up from 3.2 percent just one year ago.

Indonesia preparing ISPO certification for oil palm plantations

During the last Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO RT8), the Ministry of Agriculture of Indonesia announced that it is preparing an Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) scheme as a requirement for oil palm plantations in the country.

Based on assessing producers against their compliance with a range of land-use, agricultural, forestry and other laws, ISPO would be mandatory for oil palm producers in Indonesia.

Netherlands commits to sustainable palm oil

The Netherlands has become the first country in the world to commit itself to only using palm oil certified under the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

The commitment, developed by the Dutch Task Force for Sustainable Palm Oil, states that “by the end of 2015 all palm oil destined for the Dutch market has to be sustainable.”

The term ‘sustainable palm oil’ means that the palm oil has been certified according to RSPO principles and criteria and that the palm oil is being traded in conformity to one of the three RSPO-approved trading systems: ‘segregation’, ‘mass balance’ or ‘book & claim’.

Walmart makes major commitment to sustainable agriculture

Walmart has launched its new global commitment to sustainable agriculture that aims to reduce the environmental impact of farming and cut food waste, while helping small and medium-sized farmers expand their businesses.

Under the new initiative, Walmart will ask suppliers for the first time about the water, energy, fertilizer and pesticide they use per unit of food produced.

Walmart’s strategy also includes sustainably sourced key agriculture products, with the retailer planning to focus on two major contributors to global deforestation—palm oil and beef production.

The retailer will now require sustainably sourced palm oil for all Walmart private brand products globally by the end of 2015.

Walmart says sourcing sustainable palm oil for its U.K. and U.S. private brand products alone will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by five million metric tons by the end of 2015.


WWF Briefing: Sustainable Agriculture - Links to International Development

This WWF briefing paper highlights the links between agriculture, international development and natural systems, and responds to increasing interest in agriculture in the development sector.

WWF argues that natural systems and biodiversity are the platform for agriculture and links are discussed between sustainable agriculture and food security, water security and climate change. Sustainable agriculture requires new approaches to land and water use planning, maximising the potential of small holders and sustaining ecosystem services which underpin agriculture and food security.

It is also critical to address unsustainable consumption and production patterns. Any food and farming strategy should ultimately be based on securing the basic human rights of adequate food and good health, and on reducing the global environmental impacts of the food we produce and consume.

» download the briefing

Food, Fuel, or Forests? Charting A Responsible U.S. Role in Global Palm Oil Expansion

This report by the National Wildlife Federation warns that the increased demand for palm oil—which makes its way into the U.S. in a myriad of food and cosmetic products—may lead to further loss of tropical forests and create new greenhouse gas emissions if palm oil expansion is not managed sustainably.

» download the report

Sumatra's Forests, their Wildlife and the Climate (1985-2009)

A quantitative assessment of some of Sumatra's natural resources, this report was submitted to Indonesia's National Forestry Council (DKN) and to the National Development Planning Agency (BAPPENAS).

This report follows from a previous publication in 2008 on deforestation in Riau Province, Sumatra, and highlights the threat to Sumatra's wildlife, floral diversity and global climate by continued natural forest clearance and peat drainage especially by the pulp and paper industry.

» download the report

FAO Global Forest Resources Assessment 2010

The Global Forest Resources Assessment 2010 (FRA 2010) is the most comprehensive assessment of forests and forestry to date - not only in terms of the number of countries and people involved - but also in terms of scope.

It examines the current status and recent trends for about 90 variables covering the extent, condition, uses and values of forests and other wooded land, with the aim of assessing all benefits from forest resources.

Information has been collated from 233 countries and territories for four points in time: 1990, 2000, 2005 and 2010.

» download the assessment

REDD Alert: Protection Money

This new report by Greenpeace investigates how expansion of oil palm and pulp and paper plantations, logging concessions, and energy production, could result in industry using climate funds to bankroll conversion of rainforests and peatlands and undermine Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s commitment to low-carbon development.

» download the report

Papua New Guinea: Not ready for REDD

Released at the Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in Japan in October 2010, Greenpeace’s new report asserts that the Government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) is not yet in a fit position to receive international funding for REDD - a proposed global solution to deforestation and climate change. The report recommends that PNG only receives REDD funding when it places a moratorium on all logging and deforestation.

» download the report

WWF Living Planet Report

Published every two years by WWF, the Living Planet Report is the world's leading, science-based analysis on the health of our planet and the impact of human activity. The 2010 edition of the Living Planet Report presents new analyses on the health of our only planet, showing how populations of tropical species are plummeting while humanity’s demands on natural resources are sky-rocketing.

» download the report

Opportunities for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Tropical Peatlands

New research by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) shows how converting peatlands for wood-pulp and oil palm plantations generates nearly 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide per hectare.

This makes these supposedly "green" sources of paper, vegetable oil and biofuels important drivers of climate change according to the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

» read the abstract


New videos and video slide shows produced by WWF highlight the environmental and social challenges related to palm oil and soy production and point the way to possible solutions.

WWF's Market Transformation Initiative: How WWF engages with businesses to make commodity production socially and environmentally responsible

How our consumer choices affect wildlife: The impact of palm oil on forests, wildlife and people is described in this short video slideshow


Global climate deal in reach with Cancun outcome

WWF, December 11, 2010

World governments laid tentative groundwork for a global agreement to fight climate change by making a series of commitments at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP16 negotiations in Cancun, Mexico. The decision addressing emissions from deforestation, also know as Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) provides a sound foundation for moving a credible REDD process forward and an agenda for the work ahead. 


Finland to fund sustainable energy from forests in Indonesia

Reuters, December 10, 2010 

Finland is aiming to set up a scheme to produce renewable biomass energy from Indonesian forests in 2011, with an initial investment of four million euros. So far over four billion US dollars have been pledged to help Indonesia tackle deforestation from rich nations, including from the United States, Norway, Japan and now Finland.


Oil palms near Riau park in Sumatra demolished

The Jakarta Post, December 4, 2010 

Fifty-three hectares of oil palm plantations have been demolished in Riau Province, Sumatra, because they encroached on parts of Tesso Nilo National Park. Oil palm encroachment has reached 28,000 hectares, or 34% of the park. Park Head Hayani Suprahman said that all illegal oil palm plantations in the national park will be demolished.


Government of Indonesia calls for road map for palm oil industry

The Jakarta Post, December 4, 2010 

The government of Indonesia has called on stakeholders in the country's growing palm oil sector to set up a road map to ensure that oil palm plantations will not only help economic growth but promote environmental sustainability.


Sarawak, Sabah suitable for SPOC pilot project

The Borneo Post online, December 1, 2010 

The formation of Sustainable Palm Oil Clusters (SPOCs) under Malaysia’s Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities is expected to catalyse increased productivity and fresh fruit bunch (FFB) production for plantation smallholders.


First passenger bio-fuel flights to be launched by Lufthansa and Airbus, November 29, 2010

Lufthansa is launching the world's first commercial passenger flights using bio-fuel in the first half of 2011, with an IAE (International Aero Engines) powered Airbus A321 aircraft, Airbus officials say.


Rainforest saviour or fig leaf?

Yale Environment360, November 29, 1010The drive to promote sustainable palm oil has evolved into a test case for green consumerism. The outcome could help determine the future of the rainforests of Asia and Africa — and whether consumer pressure can really influence corporate giants.


Scientists call upon Indonesia to recognize value of secondary forests, November 18, 2010

A group of scientists have called upon the governments of Indonesia and Norway to recognize the conservation value of logged-over and "degraded" forests under their partnership on reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation.


Oil palm and agricultural policy: Boom or ruin for Indonesian farmers?

East Asia Forum, November 13, 2010

Can a boom in agricultural commodities such as oil palm provide a pathway out of poverty? Or does it amount to an instrument of mass immiseration?


Expecting more from annual RSPO

The Jakarta Post, November 11, 2010

This opinion piece analyzes some of the challenges facing the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and proposes some improvements to the roundtable, such as improving the body's internal communication mechanisms, and being strict on what issues it chooses to tackle.


India urged to cut import duty on green palm oil

Khaleej Times, November 1, 2010 A vegetable oils industry body has asked the Indian government to cut its tax on eco-friendly imports of the commodity by one to two percent in a bid to boost consumption.


General Mills bullish on sustainable palm oil, October 22, 2010

General Mills recently issued a statement outlining its plan for "sourcing palm oil in a socially and environmentally responsible manner." Specifically the company committed to purchase palm oil exclusively from members of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).


Green palm oil output must rise 5-fold by 2015: AAK

Reuters, October 22, 2010

Production of sustainable certified palm oil needs to increase about fivefold in the next five years, to meet buyers' commitments, the British unit of Swedish oils manufacturer AAK said on Friday.


Opinion: Corporations, conservation, and the green movement, October 21, 2010

Corporations have today replaced small-scale farmers as the prime drivers of deforestation, a shift that has critical implications for conservation.


Greener palm oil needs more Asia support: Unilever

Reuters, October 19, 2010

Palm oil buyers in India and China need to join those in Europe in signing up for a certification scheme to promote sustainable palm oil, consumer goods giant Unilever said on Tuesday.


Walmart's plan for small farmers expands private-sector climate agenda

New York Times, October 15, 2010

Walmart is launching a program to sell $1 billion worth of food from small and mid-sized farms in emerging markets such as China and double its sale of locally sourced fruits and vegetables in the United States.



RTRS Chain of Custody Certification
January 11-13, 2011
Berlin, Germany
An introduction to the RTRS chain of custody systems, followed by a two-day course for qualified auditors, accreditation bodies and companies’ internal audit staff.

find out more

International Conference on Preparing Agriculture for Climate Change
February 6-8, 2011
Punjab Agricultural University, India

A three-day international conference of agricultural scientists and climatologists at Punjab Agricultural University at Ludhiana, India focusing on agriculture, mitigation strategies, adaptation strategies, climate change and biodiversity.

find out more

RTRS Standard Training Course

March 10-11, 2011
Buenos Aires, Argentina
This course will provide participants with knowledge on the requirements of the RTRS Standard.

find out more


For readers of FCN 27 we would like to note 2 corrections:
  • In the lead article “Sustainable Segregated Palm Oil Supply Chain Gains a Foothold in Europe,” the article incorrectly stated that Unilever is a customer of New Britain Palm Oil (NBPOL).
  • In the Publications section, the summary of the Conservation Letters article "Wildlife-friendly oil palm plantations fail to protect biodiversity effectively" incorrectly stated that the article calls for "plantations that are made more hospitable to wildlife", which it does not. Rather, the article concludes that the land-sparing strategy is more effective, as large areas of forest set aside from production support wildlife much more cost-effectively than small fragments on oil palm plantations.