Forest Conversion Newsletter No.35 - October 2012 | WWF

Forest Conversion Newsletter No.35 - October 2012

Posted on 18 October 2012    
Forest Conversion News focuses on the responsible production of palm oil and soy.



Cameroon Biodiversity Hotspot and Local Communities at Risk as Herakles Farms quits RSPO

American-owned palm oil producer Herakles Farms’ decision to leave the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), in the midst of its plans to push ahead with a controversial US$350 million, 70,000 hectare palm oil plantation in Cameroon, spells bad news for sustainable palm oil development and the country’s biodiversity.

WWF was one of a number of organizations that submitted complaints to the RSPO warning that the US-based company had not adequately followed guidelines that all RSPO members are required to follow if they are opening new areas for development. The guidelines contain safeguards to ensure the protection of high conservation value forest and community interests. As a result of the complaint, the RSPO had asked Herakles to suspend clearing while discussions concluded on the outstanding issues.

WWF and the other complainants asked that Herakles carry out an adequate High Conservation Value Assessment of the entire 70,000 hectare concession area before development started. The complaint also asked the company to ensure respect for land tenure rights, the implementation of the free, prior and informed consent process and transparent communications with stakeholders.

In fact, Herakles Farm’s own Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), conducted by its local subsidiary SGSOC, suggested that the negative impact of the plantation on livelihoods will be “major” and “long-term.”

Herakles’ decision to quit RSPO means that the 70,000 hectare plantation proposal for areas of high conservation value forest surrounded by national parks and forest reserves is no longer subject to the restraints and protections offered by the RSPO, despite the company’s commitment that it will still seek to abide by these sustainability standards.

According to Basile Yapo, Country Director of WWF Cameroon, “given the rapid pace and scale of palm oil development in West Africa, it is critically important that the governments in the region put in place vital safeguards to insure that these projects are sustainable.”

WWF is calling on investors to steer clear of any palm oil development by irresponsible companies in Cameroon and other frontier regions. “Forests in the green heart of Africa are vulnerable targets for expansion, as palm oil companies look beyond Indonesia and Malaysia for new land to expand palm oil production,” said Adam Harrison, WWF-International’s representative on the RSPO Executive Board.

Now, with the rapid pace and scale of palm oil development in West Africa, it is critically important that the governments in the region put in place safeguards to insure that palm oil projects are environmentally sustainable.  

WWF, Reuters

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Anneke Assink, Category Procurement Manager, and Edwin Riegman, R&D Manager on the Oils and Fats Category Team, FrieslandCampina.

FrieslandCampina is a multinational dairy company wholly owned by the dairy co-operative Zuivelcoöperatie FrieslandCampina, which has 14,391 member dairy farms in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. Key markets are Europe, Asia and Africa and in 2011, sales amounted to over 9.6 billion euros.

What do you use palm oil for?

FrieslandCampina uses palm (kernel) oil in a wide range of applications, like fat powders for bakery, soups and sauces, coffee creamer, toppings/imitation creams and sweetened condensed milk. Our global volume of palm oil (kernel) is less than 100,000 million tonnes, mainly in Western Europe and South East Asia.

What is the policy of FrieslandCampina with regards to palm oil?

Since October 2010, our policy with regard to sustainable palm (kernel) oil is to purchase segregated (SG) oil where available—failing that we purchase Mass Balance (MB) oil. In cases where neither SG nor MB palm oil is available yet, we purchase Greenpalm certificates. Our policy is not only applicable to oils/fats but to emulsifiers as well.

What are the reasons behind this proactive approach?

This proactive approach is routed in route2020, our company strategy for 2020 which aims for a substantially higher performance premium for milk than in 2009 as well as a higher dividend in the form of equity registered in the name of members via member bonds. One of the pillars of this strategy is CSR. A sustainable supply chain is a focus area within the FrieslandCampina CSR strategy, and having a sustainable palm oil policy fits into this CSR strategy.

With regard to the sustainable palm oil policy itself, the reason we chose this policy and this timeframe is we believe it’s important to have one uniform, global company policy. We don’t believe in window dressing, so we want concrete tangible targets contributing to further growth of sustainable palm oil and providing an incentive to palm growers to switch from conventional plantations to sustainable ones. By already implementing the policy as of 2011, instead of waiting until 2015, we show entrepreneurship and that we are able to offer our customers sustainable solutions.

How did you implement this? What challenges did you encounter? What was easy, what was difficult?

The category team for oils and fats (a multidisciplinary team consisting of procurement, QA and R&D) has been monitoring developments on sustainable palm since 2005. FrieslandCampina became a RSPO member in 2007 and since then we have been discussing with our suppliers when they can have physical sustainable palm oil available commercially.

In 2010, sustainable palm oil became available on the European market and the category team formulated the policy in 2010, had it approved by the Executive Board to ensure internal commitment, started with a pilot at one operating company in December 2010 and rolled the policy out step by step to other FrieslandCampina plants.

From the pilot we got some experience regarding which internal steps need to be taken together with other departments like QA/QC, logistics, sales (get SG or MB qualification on the product specification, adjust master data information in the ERP system, instruct Goods Receipt Department on the necessity to have MB/SG qualification on freight documents, and training for Sales on which claims we can make on our products). In December 2010 the plant where we started the pilot (Kievit, Meppel, in the Netherlands) was audited and RSPO-SCCS certified.

The difficulty in this process is that implementation is time consuming, it requires a good and detailed understanding of prerequisites to get certified, and also understanding of which claims can be made. In a large organization, you need a full-time employee working on this topic in order to guarantee successful implementation.

What is the status of implementation?

As of October 2012, almost 100% of the palm (kernel) oil and emulsifier bought in Europe is bought via the SG or MB supply chain options. Three operating companies have been audited and certified (Kievit Meppel, Satro Lippstadt and DMV Veghel), the palm oil bought in Malaysia is MB, and we are about to take the next step in Asia as there is increased availability of MB palm oil in Indonesia.

Are there any differences between countries and/or regions?

There are indeed differences in regions. The awareness of both suppliers and customers on sustainability is different in Europe compared to regions such as Asia or Africa. Therefore, in the earlier days there was less pull from the market and less push from suppliers towards sustainable palm oil in South East Asia, and thus sustainable palm oil was only available in Malaysia.

This is now changing, and sustainable palm oil options in Indonesia are increasing, which is a very positive development. Also in Thailand progress is being made, which has not yet resulted in MB or SG palm oil, but awareness is there.

What is the response of your suppliers?

In general suppliers are happy to have a customer with a clear policy and a clear vision. In some cases they have faced difficulties in following the pace of FrieslandCampina. Since there is still lack of critical mass, especially in Asia, SG palm oil suppliers are often still only able to offer MB palm oil, as they cannot/don’t want to switch their factories/storage tanks to fully sustainable only.

How are you communicating this to your customers?

FrieslandCampina has several companies using palm oil, in various applications and markets. We have communicated our policy in general through a press release, while at the customer level there is a more tailored approach that is aligned with the sales segment. At FrieslandCampina Kievit, the decision was made to print the RSPO status (i.e. RSPO MB or RSPO SG) on the packaging of their products, so here the message is broadly communicated with the market.

What is the response of your customers?

Our customers value the proactive approach of their supplier, contributing to realize their own CSR targets.

What recommendations do you have for other companies and/or for WWF?

Sustainability only works when it’s embraced. A proactive attitude from all players in the supply chain, who are aware of their own responsibility, is necessary. Our call is: Please switch to a sustainable solution as soon as possible, and don’t only buy certificates and don’t postpone purchasing sustainable palm oil until 2015. Let’s show producers that the demand is there, and encourage them to further invest in sustainable plantations.

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Update on the Soy Moratorium

A report by the Brazilian Vegetable Oil Industries Association ABIOVE claims that soybeans are not a relevant driver for deforestation in the Amazon. ABIOVE published the results of the fifth annual monitoring cycle for soybean planting in the Amazon Biome, as part of the Soy Moratorium, an initiative to halt deforestation related to soy expansion in the Amazon.

Since the start of the Soy Moratorium in 2006, the monitoring team has used satellite images (which are later validated through flyovers) to detect soybeans crops. This year, the monitoring process identified the presence of soybeans on 18,410 hectares of deforested land. For the period under evaluation (2006-2011), total deforestation in the Amazon Biome was 4.51 million hectares.

WWF-Brazil has supported the Soy Moratorium and been an active member of the initiative's Technical Committee since its inception. "While the latest results of the Moratorium have been encouraging, the control mechanisms must be strengthened in order to ensure that traders are not trading soy cultivated from recently deforested areas,” says Cassio Moreira, Director of Agriculture and Environment at WWF-Brazil.

“Though we are happy with the results, companies sourcing soy need to realize the Amazon only comprises about 8% of the soy cultivated area in Brazil. Therefore, the Soy Moratorium, no matter how successful, is not enough to halt deforestation caused by soy expansion in Brazil. Companies must take other actions, such as joining the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) and producing and/or sourcing certified responsible soy in order to halt the devastating impact that soy is having in other threatened ecosystems like the Cerrado in Brazil. Around 300,000 hectares of land are cleared annually for soy production in the Cerrado.”


European Soy Event Confirms Momentum on Responsible Soy in Europe

Over 60 representatives from the soy supply chain, including food manufacturers, retailers, feed suppliers and traders, gathered in Zurich Switzerland on September 21 to discuss the progress and lessons learned related to building a market for responsible soy in Europe. The European Soy Event was sponsored by the Soy Network Switzerland, Coop, Migros and SECO and drew participants from Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, France, Finland, Sweden, Austria, Norway, and the UK).

Among those presenting were representatives from the Roundtable on Responsible Soy (RTRS), Brazilian soy crusher IMCOPA, IP Suisse and WWF Germany. After the presentations, companies in the soy supply chain were asked to share their commitments and goals concerning responsible soy, as well as their requirements to reach these goals. The responses provided an encouraging overview of the progress being made on responsible soy in Europe, with many companies stating their commitments or intentions to make commitments.

For more information, contact

Major Breakthrough in Producing Responsible Soy in China

Large soy farms in China will start collaborating with Solidaridad, a foundation working on sustainable production chains, towards the first responsibly produced soy in China. This is the first time that sustainability considerations are embedded into soy production in China, a timely development as China is the single largest consumer and importer of soy in the world, and also the 4th largest producer.

Two large farms, the Sinograin North and Nenjiang farm, will become certified by the Round Table for Responsible Soy (RTRS) as part of Solidaridad’s Farmer Support Programme. Combined, these farms’ soy plantations cover 50,000 hectares and employ 3,000 workers.

The programme focuses on 2 major challenges in the Nenjiang region, namely reducing poverty amongst soy farmers (whose annual income from soy plantations is less than €150) and on reducing the excessive use of chemicals which lead to low crop quality and pollution.

It is expected that smallholders in the area will also adopt the RTRS standard and as a result will achieve higher productivity and responsible production. There are 28,000 small farmers in the area, with a land ownership of 0.4 hectares per farmer on average.

By 2015, the programme aims to reduce production costs by 10% due to lower input of herbicides and fertilizers, a better market price as a result of the introduction of improved soy varieties and higher level protein, a 10% increase in turnover per farm as a consequence of higher crop quality, and income growth of 20% for local smallholders.

Food Ingredients First

French Firms Urged to Back Away From No Palm Oil Label Claims

Products labelled ‘no palm oil’ have proliferated on French supermarket shelves in recent years but Malaysian officials say such labels misrepresent an industry that has made strides toward greater sustainability.

‘No palm oil’ on-pack labels are increasing according to market research organisation Mintel, which says there were 72 new products in Europe carrying such a claim on the front of packs in 2011, compared to 16 in 2010. Up to the end of July 2012, an additional 66 products bear the claim, and France accounts for 80% of those.

Jacquet and San Michel were the most active companies in the country in terms of their use of the claim. Others included Findus with its Lasagne Bolognese, and PepsiCo’s Lay’s palm-oil-free Saveur Moutarde Pickles crisps. The Casino supermarket chain has also pledged to remove palm oil from its own-brand foods, while Carrefour decided to switch to Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) by 2015 instead, following the lead of UK retailers.

The European Union (EU) is a major market for commodities-related products and for palm oil. The 27-member EU is the second largest export destination for Malaysia’s palm oil, with exports in 2011 totalling about RM10.3 billion, up 19.4% compared to 2010.

Food Navigator, The Star, La France Agricole

Tripa Palm Oil Concession Revoked in Sumatra

An Indonesian court has instructed the Governor of Aceh Province to revoke a controversial license owned by a palm oil company accused of destroying orangutan habitat and carbon-rich peatlands on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia.

The decision follows an acrimonious, activist-led campaign to stop the destruction of the 1,605-hectare Tripa peat swamp by PT Kallista Alam, whose controversial permit violated a country-wide moratorium on new concessions in peatlands and primary forests. The permit was granted by former Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf more than 3 months after the moratorium went into effect.

A local environmental group — the Aceh chapter Walhi — filed suit against PT Kallista Alam and the Aceh government to test the central government's commitment to the moratorium. The case garnered international interest for both its egregious nature — multiple regulations should have protected the land from conversion — and the presence of critically endangered orangutans. Local communities were also opposed to the plantation, bringing in a human rights element as well. PT Kallista Alam is also the subject of a police investigation for illegal burning, according to The Jakarta Post.

The court ruling was welcomed by Indonesia's REDD+ Task Force, which is charged with implementing the country's program for reducing deforestation. “This decision is in line with our recommendation because the land utilization permit granted to PT. Kalista Alam was based on invalidated location permit and is included in the Indicative Moratorium Map (IMM). So, we hope there will be no more mismanagement in the process of permit issuance,” said Achmad Santosa, Chair of the Working Group of Legal Review and Law Enforcement of the REDD+ Task Force, in a statement.

Over the past 20 years Indonesia has had one of the highest rates of forest loss in the world, but in 2009 Indonesian Yudhoyono pledged to reduce deforestation as part of a commitment to slow greenhouse gas emissions. Under his "7/26" plan, Indonesia aims to reduce emissions by at least 26 percent — and up to 41 percent with international support — by 2020 relative to a business-as-usual scenario. Norway has committed up to $1 billion to support the initiative.

Mongabay, The Jakarta Post

RSPO Co-Organizes Meeting On European National Endeavours In The Netherlands

On September 11, a meeting with European representatives of various national bodies, associations, and industries took place at the offices of the Dutch Product Board Margarine Fats and Oils (MVO) in Rijswijk, the Netherlands. The meeting was co-organised by RSPO, the Dutch Task Force Duurzame Palmolie and the Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH).

The goal was to discuss the present and the future of national endeavours in favour of CSPO. The meeting, which included representatives from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK, focused on the acceleration of the uptake of sustainable palm oil in Europe, how to secure industry commitment, common challenges, the promotion of national endeavours and alignment with RSPO’s strategy for Europe.


Update Statement by the RSPO On The Principles & Criteria Review

A public consultation to review the RSPO Principles and Criteria (P&C) in ongoing until 30 November 2012. During this period, interested parties can review the text of a draft revision of the P&C and submit comments to Proforest, the facilitators for the review process (email

Following this public consultation period, the RSPO Review Taskforce will convene a final meeting to consider the comments submitted and finalize a revised version of the Principles and Criteria, to be submitted to the Executive Board. The revised Principles and Criteria will then need to be adopted by RSPO members at a General Assembly.

In addition to the public consultation period, comments on these draft revisions to the Principles and Criteria will be actively sought at RT10, with the opportunity for discussion.

The documents for public consultation can be downloaded from the RSPO website

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The 2050 Criteria: Guide to Responsible Investment in Agricultural, Forest, and Seafood Commodities

Combining scientific, industry, and financial insights, WWF’s The 2050 Criteria provides the financial community with a guide to navigating the dynamic landscape of 21st century investing in food, fibber, and biofuel markets.

Serving as a field guide for investors to enter mainstream agricultural, forest, and seafood commodities in a responsible manner, The 2050 Criteria provides a framework to identify responsible practices in 10 key soft commodity sectors around the globe, including aquaculture (farmed seafood), beef, cotton, dairy, palm oil, soy, sugar, timber/pulp/paper, wild-caught seafood, and bioenergy.


Drivers of Deforestation and Forest Degradation

The report, authored by Gabrielle Kissinger of Lexeme Consulting in Vancouver and Martin Herold and Veronique De Sy of Wageningen University in the Netherlands, demonstrates that agriculture is the direct driver of roughly 80% of tropical deforestation, while logging is the biggest single driver of forest degradation.

The report presents an overview of drivers of deforestation to inform policymakers involved in developing the REDD+ mechanism, an international program that aims to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. “Drivers of Deforestation and Forest Degradation” notes that industrial activities are the principal driver of deforestation and degradation worldwide, but subsistence agriculture and fuelwood consumption remains an important direct driver of deforestation, especially in Africa.

Drivers vary on a regional scale. For example, cattle ranching and large-scale agriculture are major drivers of deforestation in Latin America, whereas palm oil development, intensive agriculture, and pulp and paper plantations are principal drivers in Indonesia.


Nature Conservancy Scopes Socio-Environmental Certification for Soy in Brazil

A new report by the Nature Conservancy provides background on the soy industry and its expansion, particularly in Brazil. It presents case studies to illustrate the current activity and potential opportunities for social and environmental responsibility, particularly in terms of certifications of sustainability.

The Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) is offered as one example, where certification entails preserving high conservation value areas, implementing best management practices, and respecting land ownership systems in place, and smallholder farmers can achieve group certifications.

Other efforts and labels examined include ProTerra, EcoSocial Seal, and the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) of Imaflora and Rainforest Alliance. Such labels can increase market access, particularly in major importing countries that require more stringent criteria on soy production. The report calls for standardized guidelines on economic, social, and environmental aspects across the soybean production chain, and for mobilizing suppliers, producers, buyers, exporters, processors, and others to align these three pillars of sustainability.


Carbon Emissions from Forest Conversion by Kalimantan Oil Palm Plantations

Writing in the journal Nature Climate Change, Kimberly Carlson, researchers from Stanford and Yale universities project that the continued expansion of plantations will add more than 558 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by 2020 — an amount greater than all of Canada’s current fossil fuel emissions.

The paper shows that the rapid expansion of palm oil plantations in the world’s tropical regions, particularly Indonesian Borneo, is becoming an increasingly significant source of global carbon emissions. Much of the expansion in recent decades has occurred in Indonesia, particularly on the island of Borneo. According to researchers, the loss of forest for palm oil plantations in Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) led to the emission of more than 140 million metric tonnes of CO2 in 2010 alone, or the equivalent of the annual emissions of 28 million vehicles.

About 80% of planting leases remained undeveloped in 2010, the study says. If all these leases are developed, more than one-third of Kalimantan’s lowlands outside of protected areas would be covered with palm oil plantations.


Decoupling of Deforestation and Soy Production in the Southern Amazon during the late 2000s

Author Marcia Macedo and colleagues demonstrate that reduced deforestation and increased agricultural production can occur simultaneously in tropical forest frontiers, provided that land is available and policies promote the efficient use of already-cleared lands (intensification) while restricting deforestation.

The study shows that from 2006 to 2010, deforestation in the Amazon frontier state of Mato Grosso decreased to 30% of its historical average (1996–2005) whereas agricultural production reached an all-time high. In the forested region of the state, increased soy production from 2001 to 2005 was entirely due to cropland expansion into previously cleared pasture areas (74%) or forests (26%).

From 2006 to 2010, 78% of production increases were due to expansion (22% to yield increases), with 91% on previously cleared land. Declining deforestation coincided with a collapse of commodity markets and implementation of policy measures to reduce deforestation. Soybean profitability has since increased to pre-2006 levels whereas deforestation has continued to decline, suggesting that anti-deforestation measures may have influenced the agricultural sector.


Production and Exportation of Brazilian Soy and the Cerrado: 2001-2010

This publication from WWF-Brazil sheds light on the production and exportation of soy and soy derivative products to stimulate debate and actions among those involved in the industry.


Lowering Environmental Costs of Oil Palm Expansion in Colombia

In this CIFOR publication, researcher Garcia-Ulloa and colleagues model the impacts of expanding oil palm agriculture in Colombia, demonstrating that the impacts of oil palm expansion (e.g., deforestation, conversion of natural savannahs) would be minimized by establishing new plantations on pasture lands, given the low environmental value and economic utility of this land use. Colombia is the fifth largest producer of palm oil in the world, and the country's government and oil-palm farmers association target a 6-fold increase of crude palm oil production by 2020.


Mapping and Monitoring Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Sumatra (Indonesia) using Landsat Time Series Data Sets from 1990 to 2010

In this paper published in Environmental Research Letters, Belinda Arunarwati Margono and colleagues demonstrate a method for quantifying primary forest cover disturbance and degradation that can be replicated across the tropics in support of REDD+ initiatives. As reported by FAO, Indonesia experiences the second highest rate of deforestation among tropical countries.

Hence, timely and accurate forest data are required to combat deforestation and forest degradation in support of climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation policy initiatives. Within Indonesia, Sumatra Island stands out due to the intensive forest clearing, including for palm oil, resulting in the conversion of 70% of the island's forested area through 2010. The authors present a hybrid approach for quantifying the extent and change of primary forest in Sumatra in terms of primary intact and primary degraded classes.

The rate of primary forest cover change for both forest cover loss and forest degradation slowed over the study period, from 7.34 million ha from 1990 to 2000, to 2.51 million ha from 2000 to 2010.


UNCERTAIN FUTURES: The impacts of Sime Darby on communities in Liberia

The Sustainable Development Institute of Liberia’s new report details the impact of Sime Darby on communities in Liberia, detailing how oil palm plantations have appropriated community farmlands. The report states that all communities that were interviewed claimed no compensation had been offered to them for the land taken for the company’s concessions. Local people have few livelihood options because they have lost their farms, land, and some of their cultural heritage sites have been replaced with oil palm plantations.

In 2009 the Government of Liberia allocated more than half a million acres of land to Sime Darby without consulting or securing the consent of those living on, and using the land. The author recommends that to avoid future conflicts, the government needs to critically examine its policy on land allocation, with a view to reforming the current processes for allocating land to investors, especially in the agricultural sector.


Heart of Borneo: Investing in Nature for a Green Economy

This WWF report is designed to support government-driven efforts under the Heart of Borneo Initiative to mainstream nature into economic decision-making as a key element in establishing a green economy. It also aims to support policy discussions regarding investments, (fiscal) policies and subsidy allocation and on-the-ground cross-sectoral implementation.

The Heart of Borneo: Investing in Nature for a Green Economy report:
- showcases several important values of HoB’s ecosystems and biodiversity
- highlights environmental costs and forgone revenues in the current economy
- shows that valuing natural capital supports the building of local economies
- presents policy options and economic instruments, as well as on-the-ground and cross-cutting interventions, targets and indicators.

The report can be read online or downloaded here:

Food and Agriculture: The future of sustainability

This report by the U.N. Division for Sustainable Development focuses on vital areas of risk and offers a collection of up-to-date information on the current and likely trends for our global food and agriculture systems. It concludes that to handle growing food demand, it is clear that today's "business as usual" is not a viable option. Agriculture is at the threshold of a necessary paradigm shift and yet, we have not fundamentally altered the way we measure, understand, and incentivize our agricultural systems.

A very diverse-thinking group of more than 70 agri-food leaders in the business, policy, "green," and social arenas contributed their vision and bold ideas. The report exposes areas of disagreement and reveals many areas of common agreement about strategic options that are available right now. It also lays out specific "high impact" areas where smart decisions will make the most difference for more sustainable and resilient food and agriculture systems.


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DuPont Nutrition & Health Leads the Way in Sustainable Emulsifiers, September 11 2012

DuPont Nutrition & Health’s (DuPont) extensive portfolio of emulsifiers is now based on sustainably sourced palm and non-palm oils to address concerns about the impact of palm oil plantations on the environment and wildlife. In January 2009, the company was the first to offer Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certified Mass Balanced (MB) emulsifiers, and in 2011 the first company to offer RSPO certified Segregated (SG) emulsifiers. By 2015 DuPont has pledged to source 100% of its palm-based raw materials as certified palm oil.

Unilever Goal on Sustainable Palm Oil Reached

RSPO, September 2 2012

Unilever has announced that its target to have 100% certified sustainable palm oil covered by GreenPalm Certificates by the end of 2012 has been reached 3 years earlier than targeted. With this goal reached, Unilever has set a new target of buying palm oil from traceable sources by 2020.

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Is your Halloween candy linked to rainforest destruction?

Mongabay, October 11 2012

A campaign by the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in the US aims to raise awareness about the link between Halloween candy and deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia. The zoo urges consumers to only buy candy produced by companies that are members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).


Palm oil sustainability: a sensitive issue due for exponential growth

Foodnavigator, October 11 2012

In an interview with Food Navigator, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil Director General Darrel Webber states that awareness of certified sustainable palm oil is “on the cusp of exponential growth.” In some markets there is already a high degree of sensitivity toward palm oil and there might be a preference for certified palm oil, but says “I would hate to see people turning away from palm oil without understanding what they are doing….Something else has to replace it. Instead of veering away from one particular oil, why don’t we talk about how we can produce oil sustainably?”


Increase in deforestation in the Legal Amazon during August, September 25 2012

Data released by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) show that for the month of August, the largest area of Amazonian deforestation occurred for the past three years. Led by high rates in the states of Mato Grosso and Pará, the devastation in the biome was 522 km2. A record for the year, the degradation represents an increase of 220% over August last year.


Two Liberians Get International Certification

The Inquirer, September 21 2012

Two Liberian environmental professionals have been confirmed by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) as RSPO High Conservation Value (HCV) Assessors for a 2-year period. This development reflects growing interest in palm oil sustainability in Africa.


Statement by the RSPO on Self-Suspension of Control Union Certification

RSPO, September 18 2012

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has accepted the decision by Control Union Certification (CUC) to resume auditing companies for RSPO compliance after voluntarily suspending their offering of RSPO certification services late last year.

The RSPO accepted CUC’s return to service after reviewing the report from the 3rd party accreditation body, ASI, on the measures established by CUC in addressing the specific issues observed during the accreditation audits in November 2011. This audit identified some outstanding non-conformity which CUC is in the process of addressing. ASI have scheduled a return field audit in the near future and based on the outcome of the audit, RSPO will take appropriate subsequent measures.


Illegal Palm Oil Firms Blamed for Razing Protected East Kalimantan Forests

Jakarta Globe, September 8 2012

Forestry officials and police in Berau District, Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) are investigating the burning of 200 hectares of land inside a protected forest. According to authorities, there are indications that the perpetrators were paid to do so by illegal palm oil companies.


One of the World’s Largest Scheme Smallholders in Indonesia to be RSPO-certified

RSPO, September 7 2012

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has certified another 2 smallholder plantations in Indonesia that are operating under producer Asian Agri. Combined with its previously certified plantations (all in Sumatra), Asian Agri now has a total production volume of 211,953 metric tonnes of Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO).


Guess Who’s Chopping Down the Amazon Now

NPR, September 6 2012

Though Brazil's Amazon has been the focus of environmental groups for decades, the deforestation rate there has fallen dramatically in recent years as clear-cutting of Amazonian jungle in 8 other countries has started to rise. As a result, the 40% of Amazonia located in a moon-shaped arc of countries from Bolivia to Colombia to French Guiana faces a more serious threat than the jungle in Brazil. The culprits range from ranching to soybean farming, logging to infrastructure development projects.


The Future is in our Palm

The Star, August 25 2012

In this interview, 4 prominent stakeholders in the Malaysian palm oil industry—Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) Chief Executive Officer Tan Sri Dr Yusof Basiron, IOI Group Executive Director Datuk Lee Yeow Chor, Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhdgroup president/CEO Datuk Sabri Ahmad and United Plantations Bhd vice-chairman Datuk Carl Bek-Nielsen—talk with The Star about the economic importance of the industry; its sustainability, production, demand and supply patterns; and the acute labour shortage it faces.


Norway Urges Indonesia to Keep Forest Protection

The Jakarta Post, August 24 2012

Norway’s Environment Minister has urged Brazil and Indonesia to avoid backtracking on policies to protect tropical forests, saying up to $2 billion in aid promised by Oslo hinged on proof of slower rates of forest clearance.


Africa: Industrial Palm Oil Expansion in Africa - Not to Be At the Cost of Forests and People, August 24 2012

Industrial scale palm oil plantations are rapidly expanding in Africa, however the allocation of concessions is often decided without prior identification of the natural forests to protect, and without consultation with local communities. Although promises of economic development and jobs to local communities have not come true for many, Greenpeace has documented an innovative, independent smallholder approach in Indonesia that has delivered social and economic benefits for the community while protecting the remaining forest. This example lends itself to replication in Africa.


Government May Address Water Pollution from Oil Palm Mills

Borneo Post online, August 24 2012

Borneo Rhino Alliance (Baro) Executive Director Datuk Dr Junaidi Payne states that the owners of palm oil mills in Sabah have to devote more attention to converting their waste water into clean water, gases than can be burned to produce energy for human use, plus indigestible residue and minerals. Dr Payne goes on to say that if the industry cannot address this, then the government has to do so through policy, legislation and enforcement.


Permits for Conversion of Forest to Plantations on Track to Top Past 2 Years

The Jakarta Globe, August 9 2012

The Indonesian Forestry Ministry’s Director for Forest Area Zoning has announced that permits were issued for 342,709 hectares so far in 2012. Reportedly, the area of concessions granted decreased drastically in 2010, almost stopping due to the moratorium on the conversion of forest areas, but then it rose again the year after that.


Facts and Fallacies

The Star, August 6 2012

The author of the article claims that lobbyists calling for consumers to shun products containing palm oil are missing the point. It is argued that “blackwashing” is a practice that often amounts to “…no more than scare-mongering propaganda aimed at making headlines, raising the profile of environmental debates and increasing donations.” She goes on to say that a far more constructive expense of energy would be to focus on how the certification of sustainable palm oil models, enabled by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), can be improved.


Indonesia’s Palm Oil Industry Must Focus on Sustainability: Cargill

The Jakarta Post, August 6 2012

As the Chief Executive Officer of the Singapore-based Cargill Tropical Palm Holdings Pte. Ltd., Angeline Ooi is in charge of 70,000 hectares of palm plantations in South Sumatra and West Kalimantan. In this interview she talks about the challenges when doing business in Indonesia, the company’s palm oil production in Indonesia, and the future for sustainable palm oil in Indonesia.


Soy in Bolivia and its Challenges on the Road to Responsibility

RTRS, August 1 2012

Agustin Mascotena, Executive Director of the Roundtable on Responsible Soy (RTRS), assesses the advantages and disadvantages of Bolivian production with respect to soy and other crops, in the context of a visit to promote responsible soy production in Santa Cruz.


Ecobank Raises $228m For Gabon Palm Oil Project

Ventures Africa, July 31 2012

Ecobank Capital, the investment banking arm of Ecobank, has raised $228 million to establish a 50,000-hectare palm oil plantation and a crushing mill in Gabon. According to the palm oil company that will operate the plantations, Olam, the project will implement international best practices throughout the entire supply chain by adopting Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) principles.


Keeping Riau’s Palm Oil Industry Strong a Careful Balancing Act

Jakarta Globe, July 30 2012

The article describes Greenpeace’s efforts to promote smallholder-grown, environmentally-sustainable palm oil on 3,500 ha of land in Dosan, Sumatra, Indonesia. According to Agriculture group Perkumpulan Elang director Riko Kurniawan, more needs to be done to empower smallholder farmers, given how much of Riau’s oil palm plantations they manage.


Cargill Admits to Buying Palm Oil from Illegally Cleared Orangutan Habitat

Care2, July 28 2012

Cargill has admitted to doing business with a company in Central Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) that has illegally cleared thousands of hectares of orangutan habitat, and which has allegedly hired people to hunt down and kill orangutans. Cargill admitted to Reuters that it bought at least one shipment of palm oil from PT Best in 2011, the holding group that owns the contested palm oil concession. Cargill said it will stop buying from the firm “if any illegality was proven.”


Campaign Cuts Norway’s Palm Oil Consumption by 64%, July 25 2012

A campaign run by environmental activists has led to an 87% reduction in palm oil use by 8 major food companies in Norway, reports Rainforest Foundation Norway, which led the effort. The campaign asked major food companies to disclose their palm oil use and whether palm oil was certified under the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).


Insight: Top Palm Oil Producer Indonesia Wants to be More Refined

Chicago Tribune, July 15 2012

Indonesia, the largest producer of palm oil globally, is the subject of a US$2.5 billion wave of investment to build a refining industry that would double its capacity. This development means it could supply the entire needs of Asia's top food consumers, India and China.


Environment or Profit - Palm Oil Firm Tests Indonesia

Reuters, July 12 2012

Indonesian Palm oil firm PT Suryamas Cipta Perkasa (SCP) is reported to have cleared thousands of hectares of forest on Borneo, creating major concerns for palm oil trading firms Bunge and Cargill which had made public pledges to source edible oil from plantations developed without cutting down forests illegally. PT SCP is now under investigation by a presidential taskforce on forests and land reform, as well as by local police, for clearing and developing the concession before getting mandatory environmental approvals.


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10TH Annual Roundtable Meeting on Sustainable Palm Oil (RT10)

October 30 – November 1, 2012
Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore

This year, the RT10 is themed: "10 years of driving sustainability. The business model of the future.”

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RTRS organizes the 8th International Conference in Beijing (China)

End of May 2013
Beijing, China

The Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) will organize the 8th edition of its annual conference in Beijing, China, at the end of May 2013. The China Soy Industry Association (CSIA), an RTRS member, will host the event. For any questions regarding the RT8, please contact

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