Company to spend $12 million felling Papua's rainforests

How much rainforest can you destroy with $12 million?  Quite a lot, actually...

Make way for oil palm...  (photo by William Laurance)

Make way for oil palm... (photo by William Laurance)

According to a recent report by the Indonesian policy group Greenomics, an Indonesian oil palm company plans to spend $12 million over the next three years to clear over 38,000 hectares of intact rainforest in Papua

That's an area roughly the size of 75,000 football fields.

The Indonesian province of Papua encompasses the western half of the island of New Guinea.  Its ancient rainforests are among the biologically richest ecosystems on Earth.

Notably, the oil palm company planning to fell the forests, known as PT Austindo Nusantara Jaya Tbk -- or ANJT for short -- has been a key supplier of the mega-corporation Wilmar, the world's biggest palm oil producer. 

Earlier this year Wilmar issued a "no-deforestation pledge", promising not to clear any more forests for palm oil production.

Clearly, Wilmar's pledge will be laughable if it promises it won't clear forests, and then simply buys palm oil from ANJT -- which is busily bulldozing some of the world's most biologically diverse and carbon-rich rainforests.

So, let's all keep a sharp eye on Wilmar -- while urging it to steer clear of forest-killing companies like ANJT.


World's biggest oil palm producer criticized for breaking pledge

Wilmar, the world's biggest producer of palm oil, has been heavily criticized for holding a sham public hearing in Balikpapan, Indonesia.

Make way for oil palm...

Make way for oil palm...

Wilmar made headlines recently for its pledge to stop clearing any habitats considered of 'High Conservation Value' (HCV)--such as native forest and carbon-rich peatlands. 

But in Balikpapan, Wilmar held a recent public hearing in an attempt to have an important, wildlife-rich forest tract classified as non-HCV, so it could then clear that forest.  But it didn't invite conservation groups or scientists--the very people who were most concerned and best informed about the forest--to the meeting.

Incensed NGOs and scientists have decried Wilmar's tack, saying it violates the spirit and intent of its no-deforestation pledge.

Clearly, Wilmar will have to be watched closely in future to see if it upholds its key promises.  When it comes to such things, actions speak louder than words.

Are global forest-destroyers turning over a new leaf?

Is the world shifting on its axis?  For those who follow the behavior of the biggest forest-destroying corporations, it might seem so.

Will forest-killing corporations give up their axes? (photo by Chi'en Lee)

Will forest-killing corporations give up their axes? (photo by Chi'en Lee)

In a piece just published in The Conversation, I highlight how four of the world's biggest oil palm and wood-pulp corporations seem to be changing their stripes--pledging to halt the clearing of native forests and vegetation. 

But is the story too good to be true?  Read all about it here.

-Bill Laurance