BBC report: The Burning Scar

The BBC recently reported on allegations against the Korindo Group (Korindo) concerning its oil palm operations in Indonesia. The report referenced the action taken by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) following the FSC Policy for Association complaint made against Korindo in 2017. It also presented new information that alleges Korindo used fire for land clearing.

The allegations against the Korindo Group relate to Korindo subsidiary companies and their operations in North Maluku and Papua. The areas where the alleged unacceptable activities took place were not FSC certified. They happened in forests that were converted into oil palm plantations. Palm oil is not an FSC-certified commodity, so Korindo’s oil palm plantations were never, and could not be, FSC certified.

However, in 2009 FSC introduced a policy to which organisations associating with FSC had to commit, the Policy for Association, forbidding them from involvement in potentially destructive forest practices, such as illegal logging. The policy means that certificate holders, such as Korindo, can be investigated and potentially excluded from the system on the basis not just of company activity within FSC-certified areas but also that carried out elsewhere.

In 2017 Korindo was accused of violating three of the six unacceptable activities stated in FSC’s Policy for Association. An investigation conducted by an independent complaints panel between 2017 and 2018 was followed by expert social and environmental analysis in 2019. Based on the investigation by the complaints panel it was confirmed that Korindo had converted forests to establish oil palm plantations in Indonesia, impacting High Conservation Value (HCV) forests and contributing to the damage (and potential destruction) of HCVs. In addition, the investigation found Korindo’s practice of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) was not aligned with the high requirements of FPIC demanded by FSC. These conclusions were accepted and acknowledged by the FSC Board of Directors and considered by FSC in defining the roadmap process for Korindo, for the company to implement effective actions towards the improvement of its operations and the remedy of any past environmental and social impacts.

In the implementation of the Policy for Association, FSC has learned that simply expelling companies does not provide any solutions to the environmental and social damage that has been done. We have experienced a number of cases where disassociated companies have come back to FSC with a wish to end the disassociation, but this normally only happens after years, which means that valuable time is lost before measures can be put in place to correct and compensate for past misconduct. Following the complaints panel investigation as well as the expert analyses, Korindo committed to collaborating with FSC to improve its performance and remedy past environmental and social harm. By agreeing that all current and future companies belonging to Korindo would comply with FSC’s Policy for Association, Korindo confirmed its commitment to follow key FSC guidelines throughout its operations. Based on Korindo’s commitment to improve to meet FSC’s policies and values, the Board of Directors decided to grant Korindo conditional association. This means FSC can constructively engage with Korindo to improve their operations and oversee the organisation’s social and environmental progress. Continued association is dependent on Korindo complying with strict requirements towards social and environmental reparations and remedy. The preliminary conditions set by FSC include a moratorium on any forest conversion, which remains effective today.


Links:

FSC Statement in Response to BBC Report – November 2020
FAQs
Striving to Eliminate Destructive Forestry Activities From the FSC System
Cases - Korindo Group


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