Mighty Earth has submitted a complaint to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The complaint presents compelling evidence confirming that since 2013 Korindo’s oil palm companies have been responsible for clearing over 30,000 hectares (ha) of Indonesian rainforests in Papua and North Maluku. Last week, FSC notified Mighty Earth that their complaint was officially accepted for investigation. Their acceptance note stated, “With this email we would like to inform you that, after an internal assessment of the complaint submission (including the additional information provided and the related investigation report “Burning Paradise”), FSC International has decided to accept the PfA complaint filed by Mighty against the Korindo group.”
Under the ‘Policy for the Association of Organizations with FSC’), companies are prohibited from clearing more than 10,000 hectares of forests over the past five-years across their operations. The FSC policy aims to prevent its certificate holders from conducting such ‘unacceptable forest-related activities [which are] ‘harmful to FSC’s reputation’.
The FSC policy also prohibits clearing areas classified as High Conservation Value Forests, such as primary forests. Korindo oil palm companies have cleared at least 11,700 ha of primary forests since 2013. In addition, it requires Korindo companies to “uphold the legal and customary rights of local communities,” which the group is failing to do on its operations in North Maluku and parts of Papua. To see the full complaint, click here.
“Korindo has not earned the good reputation that comes along with holding FSC certification and has violated the trust of its wood products customers who believed that the certification brought assurances of sustainability,” said Deborah Lapidus, Campaign Director with Mighty Earth. “We call on the FSC to fully investigate Korindo’s violations of the Policy for Association, and take steps to terminate Korindo’s FSC certificates until it strictly complies with its standards.”
As a result of the complaint, four of Korindo’s forest products companies located in Indonesia (PT. Korintiga Hutani, PT. Aspex Kumbong, PT. Korindo Abadi Asike, and PT. Korindo Ariabima Sari), stand to have their FSC certificates revoked. This could put some of Korindo’s timber trade in jeopardy from suspension by buyers seeking FSC-certified products. For example, Korindo’s pulpwood buyers include the Japanese companies Oji Holdings (also Korindo’s Korintiga Hutani joint venture partner) and Marubeni Corporation. A coalition of Japanese organizations is working to ensure that only FSC certified wood is used in the construction of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo—a standard that should preclude Korindo’s products from being accepted in light of this complaint. Korindo also sells plywood to the Dubai-based Transcontinental Identing company.
The complaint follows several months of work by Mighty Earth and a coalition of allied organizations in Indonesia, South Korea, and across the Globe, following the September 2016 release of a report entitled Burning Paradise, which documented through satellite analysis and field investigation Korindo’s deforestation of 30,000 ha and over 900 fire hotspots since 2013 on its palm oil plantations in Papua and North Maluku, Indonesia. In response to global media exposure and pressure from its customers, Korindo announced a moratorium on forest clearing on December 1st, 2016, but then quickly breached this commitment throughout January and February 2017 by carving roads over 3,100 ha of forest and clearing 1,000 ha at its PT Papua Agro Lestari oil palm concession in Papua.
Despite reinstating the moratorium and agreeing to submit its sustainability assessments for independent quality review, Korindo has yet to provide the data needed for the reviews to commence and has failed to adopt a comprehensive Group-wide policy to implement zero deforestation and protect human rights.
“Until Korindo can delink its operations from deforestation and land rights violations, it should not be able to get away with carrying a green FSC label on its products,” said Ms. Lapidus. “Korindo’s slogan, ‘Green Tomorrow’, says it all. For the FSC to maintain its credibility, it needs to require Korindo to clean up its operations today, not tomorrow.”