In some ways, it feels like we’re starting to move in the right direction on deforestation. Last year, the number of companies that committed to ensuring there will be no deforestation in at least some part of their supply chain reached 300, and more companies have added their names to the list in 2015.
But in the time between making pledges and keeping these promises, a lot of damage can still happen. And there are still some big companies that haven’t even committed to not cutting down primary forests, as this footage from Forest Heroes reminds us:This video drone footage was shot this April in Indonesia. The forests were cleared by Astra Agro Lestari to make way for a palm oil plantation, according to Forest Heroes. Astra Agro Lestari is a palm oil company that operations primarily in Indonesia, but is owned by the Hong Kong-based company Jardine Matheson Holdings Ltd.
Astra Agro Lestari is named by the Forest 500 as one of the companies key in the fight against global deforestation, but gives them the low score of 1 out of 5 on their overall forest policies. The company is not a participant in any of the major efforts to curb deforestation, inducing the Consumer Goods Forum, the New York Declaration on Forests or the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.
Not only does deforestation contribute to global warming, the area where this footage was shot is home to the endangered Sumatran elephant. Conservationists have warned that if deforestation continues in this part of Indonesia, these elephants could go extinct within 30 years.
Forest Heroes is calling for people to sign a petition calling on Ben Keswick, who is the commissioner of Astra Agro Lestari and also the Managing Director of Jardines Matheson, to stop clearing forests. The environmentalists are also targeting Mandarin Oriental hotels, which are also owned by Jardine Matheson.