Analysis Statement by Darrel Webber, RSPO Secretary General on the Environmental Pollution in South East Asia

On June 24th, RSPO requested 5 of its member companies who were reported in the media to be involved in the forest fires in Indonesia to submit digital maps of their concession areas in Indonesia. 3 out of the 5 companies have submitted their maps. The 3 companies are Sime Darby; Kuala Lumpur Kepong (KLK); Golden Agri Resources (GAR). No reports have been received from Tabung Haji Plantations and PT Jatim Jaya Perkasa.

The analysis was carried out by two international research experts; Malaysian scientist and Geographic Information System (GIS) expert Dr. Khali Aziz Hamzah from Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) and the World Resources Institute (WRI). The study took into account the overlapping of the concession maps with the fire and hot spot maps generated by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA). The hot spot data used were those identified from the 1st to the 26th of June 2013.

The analysis showed that, in most cases, there were no hot spots identified within the plantations owned the said 3 companies. There were, however, a few hot spots present in a minority of the areas. These hotspots, were correctly managed by the respective companies and were extinguished within 24 hours from their appearance (all the data is available for consultation on:,GAR,SIMEDARBY_FINAL.pdf).

The expert analysis provided the RSPO with several conclusions and insights. First, it is evident that KLK, Sime Darby and GAR have have been exemplary in managing the fire and the haze situation, in Sumatra. As per the RSPO Principles and Criteria (P&C), they have managed and overcome emerging or potential fire risks efficiently.

Second, these plantations appear to be safe havens when contrasted with the rampant hot spots occurring in their immediate vicinity.

Thirdly, it is evident that the concession maps currently in the public domain do not concur with the maps provided by the said 3 companies. As a result, the initial public information on whose land the fires occurred on, can be misleading. Having clarity of land use and land ownership is essential if the annual haze situation is to be addressed in a holistic manner. The RSPO appreciates that collating this information, efficiently, will not be an easy task for the Government of Indonesia. Nevertheless, the RSPO extends its hand to aid in this effort, where possible. RSPO, calls on other stakeholders to do the same. In this day and age, there is no technical barrier to collate this information for the public good. The only barrier to bring this effort to fruition is the level of fortitude of the relevant stakeholders.

The fourth conclusion that can be made is that there is an opportunity for RSPO and its members to double our efforts in playing a positive role to help other stakeholders to mitigate or avoid altogether, the annual haze situation in South East Asia. The RSPO firmly believes that mitigating or avoiding fires on peat systems require landscape level collaboration and management. The current haze situation can serve as a reminder to government authorities, not only in Indonesia, that such landscape level management plans and the capacity to implement these plans should be ready before allowing large scale development on peat systems.

RSPO would like to thank the members who have given their full cooperation towards this probe and we certainly applaud their quick action in detecting and quelling the fires in their plantations.

RSPO also strongly encourages its members with existing plantations on peat to adopt fire prevention measures within their concessions. For further guidance, kindly refer to RSPO’s Peat Best Management Practices (BMP).

The two companies yet to submit relevant data and maps to the RSPO, Tabung Haji Plantations and PT Jatim Jaya, will be given a final extension of 48 hours to submit the relevant information, after which a formal complaint will be issued against them

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