Images: Golden Agri-Resources, Foreign Policy Blogs
Following months—years—of pressure from activists around the world, Golden Agri-Resources, the world's second-largest palm oil company, agreed yesterday to work with environmental groups and the Indonesian government on more sustainable practices for how it sources palm oil, currently one of the most environmentally destructive industries in the world.Called the Forest Conservation Policy [PDF], the initiative "focuses on no development on High Carbon Stock (HCS) forests, High Conservation Value forest areas and peat lands; respect for indigenous and local communities and compliance with all relevant laws and National Interpretation of Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Principles and Criteria."
The Guardian makes clear, however, one important caveat: "the agreement announced on Wednesday will still leave GAR free to exploit other areas of forest, and land that is judged to be of lower conservation value."
Greenpeace has said it will keep an eye on the program, and is maintaining some optimism for its success. Bustar Maitar, head of Greenpeace's campaign to protect Indonesian forests, said: "This could be good news for the forests, endangered species like the orangutan and for the Indonesian economy."
He also said: "On paper, the new commitments from Golden Agri are a major step towards ending their involvement in deforestation. And if they do make these changes, large areas of forests will be saved. But now they've actually got to implement these plans, and we're watching closely to make sure this happens."
More on palm oil, Indonesia, and climate change
Indonesia to Allow More Palm Oil From Peat Lands: Watch Greenhouse Gas Emissions Go Through the Roof
Malaysia and Indonesia To Expand Domestic Palm Oil Biodiesel as Commodity Price Drops
More Dirty Deforestation: 55% of Indonesia's Logging Illegal + Cargill's Two Hidden Palm Oil Plantations