Natural forests store large amounts of carbon and host the vast majority of the world's terrestrial species. They are also important for the livelihoods of millions of people that are members of indigenous and local communities. One of the most significant impacts linked with deforestation is that it is accelerating climate and biodiversity breakdown. Deforestation can also have destructive effects on soils, causing erosion and desertification. To address these issues and impacts, SIPEF has made the below commitments that apply to both its own operations and to those of its suppliers.
Since November 2014, SIPEF has committed to no deforestation and to no new plantings on peat of any depth for all of its crops. For oil palm, SIPEF is also committed to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Remediation and Compensation Procedure (RaCP) in its own operations and in that of plasma supplier programmes. For both its own operations and its suppliers, the commitment is implemented through the respective RSPO procedures.
All new developments undergo an integrated High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA) and High Conservation Value (HCV) Assessment in line with current relevant standards and prior to any land development. The process includes a peer review of the HCV/HCS assessments, all of which are available on the HCV Resource Network and HCSA websites.
In 2020, SIPEF has started utilising the Global Forest Watch (GFW) platform as a remote sensing tool for monitoring its HCV and HCS areas for potential encroachment and land use change. This monitoring currently covers the 13 165.64 hectares of conservation area of SIPEF’s own operations in Indonesia, as well as the areas of its suppliers. The Group is working to expand its GFW monitoring activities to include the conservation and supplier areas of the Company's operations in Papua New Guinea.
When a deforestation alert is received, the field teams first investigate the site to verify the incident, as well as whether or not the land is under SIPEF’s management control. To date, only 3% of all alerts received have been verified as actual incidents of deforestation, with false positives being attributed to interpretation errors due to technical parameters within the GFW monitoring system.
If the incident is verified to have occurred, the cause of the incident is evaluated and noted. This includes whether the incident was human induced or due to natural causes, such as stream bank erosion, natural tree mortality or wind damage. Non-natural causes can include, but are not limited to, encroachment for subsistence farming, deforestation for timber or firewood, or conversion for the purposes of commercial farming or forestry (e.g. rice fields or tree groves).
At this phase, verification is carried out on whether SIPEF has management control over the land where the incident has occurred, namely if it was purchased by SIPEF or not. As per FPIC requirements, landowners are given the option to not sell, and when this happens SIPEF does not have control over the land. In alert cases where SIPEF does not have management control, SIPEF will engage with the communities to inform them and support them with alternative models, including extensive agroforestry models which employ a mixture of multi-purpose tree species and perennial or annual crops. All illegal deforestation activities are reported to the police, illegal settlers or land users evicted, and areas restored to natural vegetation as soon as possible.
The results of the GFW monitoring activities are disclosed in the SIPEF Sustainability Reports as of 2020. In addition, a visual layering of the locations of any illegal/non-compliant deforestation identified through the monitoring activities can be enabled using the SIPEF Traceability Tool, Geo SIPEF.
The Group is further working with other partners on the monitoring activities to verify and update accurately all of the data and information. More information will be published on this work in the 2021 Sustainability Report.