Friday, October 12, 2012


Thailand is the first country in the world to have independent smallholders RSPO certified
October 11, 2012 – Thailand is the first country in the world to have independent smallholders as RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) Certified which comprises a community of 412 smallholders over 2,767.33 hectares of planted land. These independent smallholders will now have an opportunity to trade approximately 52,000 mt of certified sustainable Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFB), generating an estimated 10,000 mt of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO). Currently, the total annual production capacity of RSPO certified sustainable FFB is approximately 36 million metric tonnes globally.
The international multi stakeholder organization and certification scheme for sustainable palm oil, RSPO, has been collaborating closely with major producing countries around the world to build capacity amongst independent smallholders in the past few years. This was a pressing priority after the successful certification of schemed smallholders in Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
Darrel Webber, Secretary General of RSPO commented that: “As the third largest producer of crude palm oil (CPO) in the world, over 70% of oil palm in Thailand is produced by independent smallholders. The primary challenges for smallholders to become certified include lack of awareness on benefits of being certified; funding support and lack of expertise or capacity building. To this end, the RSPO is committed to mobilizing strategic initiatives aimed at addressing these primary issues.
“Smallholders also need to be made aware of the advantages of being certified which includes access to international demand markets for sustainable palm oil; longer term efficiencies in terms of yield and productivity as well as effective cost management. A recent report by WWF in collaboration with CDC (a UK government-owned development finance institution) and FMO (the Netherlands Development Finance Company) clearly attests that the benefits of embracing sustainability outweigh the costs incurred which reinforces that responsible practices are not only good for the environment but is also commercially advantageous.” Webber added.
Daniel May, Project Manager at GIZ, an organization funded by the German government to accelerate sustainable palm oil production amongst smallholders in Thailand, commented, “The German government, in particular German Federal Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) will continue to demonstrate support in enabling smallholders around the world towards sustainability according to internationally set standards. The certification of independent smallholders was contributed by GIZ in the form of training services on best management practices such as seed selection, fertiliser application; proper health, safety and environment practices. Thailand is certainly raising the bar in its commitment to sustainable palm oil”
The National Interpretation for Thailand for Smallholders developed by the Thai National Interpretation Working Group (Thai NI WG) has been approved by the RSPO. The Thai NI WG has worked since 2010 to develop the document involving 21 representatives from Academics, grower/ farmer representatives, refineries and biodiesel plants, palm oil crushing mills, NGOSs, Government and Association. This now enables independent smallholders in Thailand to be audited and certified against the standard.

14% of world's palm oil production is now RSPO certified
The current estimated annual production capacity of RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil is 7.2 million metric tonnes, approximately 14 percent of global palm oil production. Spread over 1.6 million hectares of certified area - 45.5% of the world's current RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil production capacity comes from Indonesia; followed by 44.7% from Malaysia; with the remaining 9.8% from Papua New Guinea; Solomon Islands; Brazil; Colombia and Ivory Coast. 

Is hour Halloweem candy linked to rainforest destruction?

By Jeremy Hance -

A campaign by the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo hopes to raise awareness about the link between Halloween candy and deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia. Employing the images of Critically Endangered orangutans, the zoo urges consumer to only buy candy containing eco-certified palm oil by the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

Palm oil, which is an incredibly productive vegetable oil, has become ubiquitous in recent decades in many products: from cosmetics to convenience foods, as well as popular Halloween candies. While the industry has been a boom to the nations' economies, its rapid expansion has been blamed in part for vast deforestation across Malaysia and Indonesia; in fact a recent paper for the 90 percent of palm oil plantations in the Malaysian state of Kalimantan came at the expense of forests.

Orangutans are unable to survive in the long-term in oil palm plantations as they lose their major food sources. In addition, sometimes they are hunted down as pests. This situation has led to increasingly overcrowded orangutan orphanages. However, the destruction of these forests, some of the most biodiverse in the region, not only imperils orangutans, but thousands of other species, some still unknown to science.

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has created a PDF file that is "meant to be a helpful guide for consumers that are concerned about orangutan conservation and deforestation due to non-sustainable palm oil production in Indonesia and Malaysia," and urges consumers to only purchase candy by RSPO members, a list that includes Nestle, Kellogg's, Hershey's and Mars among others.

"If you do not find your favorite snack/company on this list," the zoo writes, "take action by writing a letter and asking the company to join the RSPO and be committed to using certified sustainable palm oil."


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

WWF: Industry should buy into GreenPalm today, or it will struggle to source fully traceable sustainable palm oil tomorrow

Food manufacturers are beginning to realize that buying more GreenPalm certificates now might be the only way to stimulate enough production of sustainable palm oil to make fully traceable products economically viable in future, says the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Monday, March 12, 2012

"Breakthrough" as plantation expansion rule sees palm oil company hand back community land

Posted on 01 March 2012  |  0 Comments

Pontianak, Borneo – An Indonesian palm oil company has relinquished over a thousand hectares of its plantation back to the community marking a breakthrough with respect to the workings of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

PT Agro Wiratama which is a subsidiary of the giant Musim Mas group and a member of the RSPO had obtained a government permit to develop an oil palm plantation on 9,000 hectares of land in West Kalimantan in Indonesian Borneo but agreed to relinquish more than 1,000 hectares following interventions by the local community and NGOs.

Deputy Director of Market Transformation at WWF Indonesia, Irwan Gunawan said the case shows how the RSPO can be successfully implemented, “This is a real example of how the New Plantings Procedure was designed to work. Early warning of expansion plans and a real willingness by PT Agro Wiratama and parent company Musim Mas to engage with the community and other stakeholders has resulted in a win-win-win for everyone, including the environment. 

“It shows that with careful planning and the right attitude palm oil can be sustainable. It can respect communities, generate income and protect wildlife.” 

He added, “Equally significant is the fact that the company gave back the land even though they had a legal permit to develop it – showing that the RSPO goes further than the law to protect local people and that Musim Mas is keen to foster a constructive relationship with its neighbours."

Under RSPO’s “New Planting procedures” member companies are required to publicly announce plans to expand their operations. This ensures that the social and environmental requirements of RSPO are considered before new operations begin.

PT Agro Wiratama’s plans were spotted on the RSPO website by the international human rights group, Forest People’s Programme, who alerted their partners in Borneo.

The local Indonesian NGO, Gemawan was then able to alert the local community to what was being proposed and assisted them in discussions with the local government and PT Agro Wiratama.

Following a series of meetings that involved the mapping of land use and discussions on land claims the reduction of the concession area was made official by the local regent (bupati).

One of the leaders of the local Kuayan community, Kamarudin said, “We are very pleased that our land is secure now because we’ve now got a chance to make choices about our lives.

“We now ask all the other parties involved in this decision to respect our choice.”

The Head of Mekar Jaya Village, Azim Kitung said, “Our community has been trying very hard for so long to refuse admittance to palm oil plantation developers in our village. We believe that we already had enough with the rubber, timber and rice paddies that we already own.”

According to KONTAK Rakyat Borneo, a Pontianak based NGO that also assisted the community in the case; there are 19 palm oil plantations in Sambas Regency, 17 of which are members of RSPO.

Despite the RSPO’s standards requiring member companies not to take over the lands of local communities without prior consent, Indonesian laws and land administration do not recognise most communities land rights resulting in permits being routinely handed out to companies even though they overlap areas basic to people’s livelihoods.

The National Land Agency statistics show that there are some 3,100 land conflicts in Indonesia between palm oil developers and local communities.

Monday, March 5, 2012


We are excited to hear about the progress of certified sustainable palm oil through this RSPO report.

Kuala Lumpur, 5 March 2012 – Multi stakeholder initiative, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) reported unprecedented growth for Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) in the year 2011 as accounted for in its inaugural qualitative review entitled “2011 RSPO CSPO Growth Interpretation Narrative” (2011 GIN). The 2011 GIN, the first of its kind for any sustainable commodity, will be an annual report aimed at recording and analysing the growth and trends of RSPO and CSPO in the global marketplace.

The report confirms the upward trend in the supply and sale of sustainable palm oil, since the certification of the commodity was first launched by the RSPO in 2008. From 2009 to 2011 supply of CSPO has increased by 250% (1,357,511 metric tons in 2009 to 4,798,512 metric tons in 2011) while sales volume has grown by over 6 times, approximately 620% (343,857 metric tons in 2009 to 2,490,526 metric tons in 2011). According to the report, the year-on-year supply of CSPO in 2011 increased by 73%, reaching 4,798,512 metric tons compared to 2,773,567 metric tons in 2010, while year-on-year sales volume increased by a whopping 94%.

The remarkable surge in supply can be attributed to the rising number of certified growers entering into RSPO’s certification process. While in 2008, RSPO could count 17 certified mills in just two countries (Malaysia and Papua New Guinea), today there are 29 grower companies with 135 certified mills in six countries: BrazilColombiaIndonesiaMalaysiaPapua New Guinea, and theSolomon Islands – an increase in certified mills of approximately 8 times over a 3 year period.

Darrel Webber, Secretary General of the RSPO commented that: “The growth of CSPO has shown an escalating trend and clearly reflects the inclination of sustainability standards towards palm oil. RSPO praises the efforts of growers for embarking on the certification process and committing themselves to the RSPO Principles and Criteria. A total of US$21.5 million worth of premiums has been paid to date to RSPO certified growers since the first certificates via the Book & Claim system under the GreenPalm were traded in 2008 - and we hope that the growers have found this valuable in empowering their transformation to sustainable cultivation practices.”

RSPO membership has also been rapidly expanding in the past year. Membership of consumer goods manufacturer increased by over 60% while the retailers category increased by 50% - both primarily from the European regions which is an affirmative step in accelerating demand of CSPO. The processors & traders category also intensified by over 30% strengthening commitment along the palm oil supply chain, another integral development in transforming the market.

“Central to all these strategies, is the RSPO commitment to our philosophy of harmonizing the interests of diverse group of nations, organizations and individuals through an inclusive, participative and consensual process. We will continue our openness, responsiveness, accessibility and accountability. Despite the dynamic landscape, our pursuit for transformation to make sustainable palm oil the norm does seem to be drawing closer.” Webber reiterated.
Jan Kees Vis, RSPO President and Global Director Sustainable Sourcing Development for Unilever said: “While reflecting on the trends and performance of 2011, the RSPO will advance forward focused on 3 strategic pillars for 2012 which include:

The first strategic pillar will be to increase CSPO uptake amongst current demand markets while penetrating major new markets for sustainable palm oil. We aim to achieve this by: driving membership and strategic collaborations in new demand markets such as India and China, increasing membership throughout the supply chain to focus more on processors & traders to consumer goods manufacturers and retailers, tracking the annual communications on progress reports by members on their pledge towards CSPO; and promoting and marketing the adoption of the RSPO trademark.

The second strategic pillar will be focused on continuing certification momentum in large producer nations, while concurrently guiding and accelerating certification in new frontiers. We will do this through engagement and outreach within our multi stakeholder structure and also with various governments, member companies and associations; as well as facilitating funding and capacity building mechanisms for smallholders and new frontiers.

The third strategic pillar will be to enhance RSPO’s international standards for certification through the current review process of its Principles & Criteria, and address significant concerns such as GHG emissions and Indirect Land Use Change; guide and facilitate the New Planting Procedure and Supply Chain Certification process, commit to solving grievance concerns through a constructive engagement process; and develop acceptance of RSPO standards for other international schemes such as those for biofuels and benchmarking our standards through strategic and synergistic collaboration.” Vis further commented.  

About the 2011 RSPO CSPO Growth Interpretation Narrative (2011 GIN)
The first and only report in the market on certified sustainable palm oil aimed at analyzing, shaping and facilitating commitment and discussions towards sustainable palm oil. As the pioneer in certified sustainable standards for palm oil and for unparalleled growth in a commodity compared to any other roundtable initiatives, RSPO is introducing its annual qualitative narrative to share,  calibrate, analyze and produce information on RSPO and CSPO growth and trends on an annual basis. The reports in the subsequent year will be developed using this inaugural narrative as a benchmark to validate growth, trends and directions. It is an RSPO-branded narrative which will be circulated globally to all stakeholders, members, media, financial analysts, investment banks, research houses, opinion leaders, governments and policymakers, embassies, councils, sustainable initiatives, and non-member palm oil players around the world.  

The report will officially be available as of March 6, 2012 at

About RSPO
In response to the urgent and pressing global call for sustainably-produced palm oil, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was formed in 2004 with the objective of promoting the growth and use of sustainable oil palm products through credible global standards and engagement of stakeholders. The seat of the association is in ZurichSwitzerland, while the secretariat is currently based in Kuala Lumpur with a satellite office in Jakarta.

RSPO is a not-for-profit association that unites stakeholders from seven sectors of the palm oil industry - oil palm producers, palm oil processors or traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks and investors, environmental or nature conservation NGOs and social or developmental NGOs - to develop and implement global standards for sustainable palm oil.

Such multi-stakeholder representation is mirrored in the governance structure of RSPO such that seats in the Executive Board and project-level Working Groups are fairly allocated to each sector. In this way, RSPO lives out the philosophy of the "roundtable" by giving equal rights to each stakeholder group to bring group-specific agendas to the roundtable, facilitating traditionally adversarial stakeholders and business competitors to work together towards a common objective and make decisions by consensus.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Illegal Orangutan Trader Prosecuted

We are very excited to see the Indonesian government finally uphold their laws to protect orangutans.  We hope this is one more step towards a brighter future for orangutans.

ScienceDaily (Feb. 23, 2012) — The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) has just announced Sumatra's first ever successful sentence of an illegal orangutan owner and trader in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia.

The seven-month prison sentence is only the third for Indonesia, despite orangutans being strictly protected under Indonesian law since 1924.
Although there have been over 2,500 confiscations of illegally held orangutans in Indonesia since the early 1970's, the first actual prosecution of an illegal orangutan owner occurred in Borneo in 2010, and now in Sumatra with this case in 2012.

The case began with the confiscation of a young male orangutan named Julius last July in Mardinding, Karo District, in the province of North Sumatra. The owner was allegedly trying to sell the orangutan, which was believed to be three years old.
The raid was conducted by the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry's Directorate-General for Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (PHKA), working in conjunction with WCS's Wildlife Crime Unit and the veterinarian and staff of the SOCP.
The Wildlife Crime Unit, created by WCS in 2003 and funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other donors, provides data and technical advice to law enforcement agencies to support the investigation and prosecution of wildlife crimes.
The SOCP, implemented by the Swiss-based PanEco Foundation, and the Indonesian NGO YEL (Foundation for a Sustainable Ecosystem) have operated the only orangutan rescue center in Sumatra since 2001 and have so far reintroduced over 150 confiscated ex-pet orangutans back to the wild. Julius is now being cared for at the SOCP's orangutan quarantine center near Medan, with just over 50 other orangutans also being prepared for a return to the forest. After spending 30 days in quarantine, Julius is now living in a socialization cage, which allows him to adapt to the presence of other orangutans. Though the road to full rehabilitation might still be a long one, Julius is making excellent progress and is expected to be released back into the wild in the future.
The sentence reflects an increase in activity and action to combat the illegal wildlife trade in Indonesia in recent years. In the last two years there have been more than 20 arrests for illegally possessing or trading protected wildlife, including the critically endangered Sumatran tiger and pangolin.
The prosecution is in full compliance with the Indonesian Government's own National Orangutan Conservation Strategy and Action plan, launched in 2007.
The majority of illegal pet orangutans are a byproduct of forest clearance for palm oil plantations and of conflicts between farmers and orangutans that raid crops in converted agricultural areas. In most cases, they are not hunted specifically for food or trade in Sumatra, but are more "refugees" from forests that no longer exist.
Conservationists believe Julius's mother was killed at the time of his capture. Relatively few orangutans are actively traded in Sumatra, but the SOCP and PHKA still confiscate around 30 illegal pets each year, whose mothers have been killed.
The Head of Natural Resources Conservancy Agency (BBKSDA) North Sumatra, Arief Tongkagie, said: "Based on the successful completion of this case, our hope is that in the future more people will be willing to report crimes against orangutans."
According to Panut, Chairman of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Forum (FOKUS): "Increased efforts to curb crimes against orangutans will provide a deterrent effect to traders."
The Wildlife Conservation Society is actively trying to reduce the damaging impact of the illegal wildlife trade.
"We commend Indonesia's Ministry of Forestry's Directorate-General for Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (PHKA) for taking a hard stance on wildlife trade, which is threatening to destroy the country's natural resources," said Dr Noviar Andayani, Director of the WCS Indonesia Program. "We are hopeful that this prosecution sends a clear message that illegal wildlife trade will not be tolerated in Indonesia."
Live orangutans sold in Indonesia, or exported illegally to neighboring countries, are kept as pets or in private collections. Other wildlife traded for food, medicines, skins, biomedical research, souvenirs and pets from Indonesia include rhinos, elephants, tigers, birds, bears, orchids, marine and freshwater fish, turtles, fragrant timber, pangolins, corals, snakes, bats, sharks, and rodents.
"Working closely with law enforcement is a key component in the fight against illegal wildlife trade," said Joe Walston, WCS Executive Director for Asia programs. "If governments want to protect their wildlife resources, they need to be serious about enforcement. Clearly Indonesia is taking a lead on this front."
Ian Singleton, Director of Conservation for the PanEco Foundation and the person in charge of the SOCP, said: "It's absolutely fantastic to finally have a prosecution of an illegal orangutan 'owner' in Sumatra, but it's also long overdue. With this sentence, as long as it is widely publicized in the region, anyone considering capturing, killing or keeping an orangutan illegally will certainly think twice about it, and hopefully the numbers being killed and kept in the coming years will begin to decline."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Swinging with Orangutans

In November, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Palm Oil Awareness Team  traveled to Indonesia and Malaysia. In past blog posts, we've highlighted the team's journey. During their time in Bukit Lawang, part of the "Our Showers were cold but the water was clean..." post, the team was fortunate enough to see wild orangutans up close. The short clip below is a montage of their footage from this exciting experience.