Korindo sanctioned by FSC for Indonesia palm oil operations

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

Certification body upholds Mighty Earth complaint on Korindo’s violations, though questions remain on illegal fires.

Korindo Global has been slapped with new sanctions after a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) investigation found the firm to have breached its standards on two palm oil projects in Indonesia.

The certification body will impose ‘improvement and remedy requirements’ on the conglomerate for violating its Policy for Association relating to land clearances between 2013 and 2016.

FSC investigators concluded that the Korean-Indonesian firm had committed widespread deforestation for its palm projects in Papua, Indonesia and had failed to gain the required consent from local communities to develop the land in adherence with FSC guidelines.

The late July announcement, which stopped short of stripping Korindo of its FSC membership, is a victory for campaign group Mighty Earth.

The US-based advocacy group filed an FSC complaint against Korindo in 2017 following the release of its major 2016 report into the firm’s suspect practices in south-east Asia.

Burning Paradise revealed how Korindo deforested 30,000 hectares of land – more than a third of which was primary forests – between 2013 and May 2016 to develop its palm oil plantations.

Locals living near several of Korindo’s concessions are cited in the report as not receiving Free Prior and Informed Consent about the developments, while others said that the palm developments had led to a worsening water supply and reduced their ability to collect wood for housing and fuel.

Mighty Earth’s 2016 report and 2017 FSC complaint also detailed credible evidence that the firm, which also sells its timber, plywood, and newsprint products to customers including News Corp Australia, had intentionally used fire to clear much of its Papuan palm oil land – an illegal act. Evidence of illegal fires in Korindo plantations have been widely reported, including by Earthsight in 2015.

While the FSC agreed that Korindo had deforested its concessions and failed to get the consent of indigenous communities living on the land – acts that flouted FSC standards – in a statement it said it had rejected allegations of Korindo’s illegal use of fire.

Following the Mighty Earth report, Korindo announced a land clearing moratorium in December 2016 for all its palm oil operations. However, the NGO accused the firm of breaching the moratorium months after its introduction.

Under the new FSC sanctions, Korindo is required to continue its suspension of any forest conversion and deforestation, achieve FSC certification in all its forestry operations and to comply with the principle of FPIC. Korindo is also required to assess past negative impact and secure remedy for it.

Deborah Lapidus, senior campaigns director at Mighty Earth, said: “The FSC’s investigation has verified the damning evidence documented by Mighty Earth and found Korindo guilty as charged.”

Lapidus added that “the FSC statement glosses over the true scale and severity of Korindo’s violations and misrepresents the [FSC] Panel’s findings on fires. We call on the FSC to release the full version of the reports. Only a full, unbiased disclosure of Korindo’s wrongdoing can make it possible for the effectiveness of their remediation measures to be assessed.”

FSC said that expelling companies often “does not provide any solutions” to the damage caused and instead believes that monitoring Korindo’s progress will bring about more tangible improvements.

Image on homepage shows fire hotspots documented within a Korindo concession in Papua in 2015. Credit: Earthsight.