Until RSPO’s 8th Annual Meeting Palm Oil's Bloody Business Continuous

The Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was established in 2004 in order to meet a global demand for environmentally friendly palm oil. The RSPO's stated goal is to promote the growth and consumption of environmentally friendly palm oil’s products through a credible global standard, which includes all stakeholders. To its credit, the RSPO has produced many important criteria to meet the goal, one of which is criterion 7.3, which specifically says, “New plantings since November 2005 are not supposed to replace primary forests or areas having one or more values of high conservation.”

Pongo Abelii (Mascott)
Reality says something else, however, in 2006, orangutans-so important to Indonesia's biodiversity, suffered terribly when two hundred and fifty-six individuals had to be evacuated from various palm oil plantations in Central Kalimantan. This number does not include others who fled or were relocated into other forests, albeit with no guarantees for their safety. Indeed, many of these Central Kalimantan forests were eventually destroyed by the palm oil giant IOI Group. The RSPO's criterion 7.3 has contributed nothing to orangutan welfare as the forests have continued to be decimated. Crimes against orangutans and their habitats continue as always. On November 18, 2007, when the RSPO annual meeting was being held in Kuala Lumpur, fourteen orangutans had to be evacuated from IOI Group’s concession in Central Kalimantan because their forest home was being decimated by IOI, which is one of the RSPO's board members.   

What IOI Group has been doing is a common practice among palm oil corporations running their operations in Indonesian Borneo, such as PPB, Wilmar, Agro Holding, Musim Mas and First Resources. On May 4, 2007 COP documented a female orangutan with her baby, who were being kept in a wooden crate within a Carson Cumberbatch’s fertilizer warehouse in Sampit. The male orangutan was badly injured in the head after being hit with a hoe. People connected to Carson Cumberbatch and Musim Mas repeatedly capture and hit orangutans in the head with hoes or wooden sticks. They capture in traps, tie them up by their hands and feet and torture them. All of the orangutans captured by palm oil workers have serious injuries to their wrists and ankles.  On June 4, 2009 BKSDA of West Kalimantan confiscated orangutans from a camp belonging to First Resources in Ketapang (West Kalimantan). A year later, First Resources is still destroying the forests and capturing orangutans.

Pongo Pygmaeus  (Getty Images/AFP)
From January to October 2010, COP rescued twenty-two orangutans from various palmoil plantations in Kalimantan. The number is barely anything when compared to that of other 1,200 orangutans who have been rescued by centers for orangutan rehabilitation or rescue, such as those managed by OFI, BOS and IAR. If a rescued orangutan represents two to ten other orangutans who were killed, then it is estimated that another 2,400 to 12,000 orangutans have been killed. COP has been witness to a continued deforestation for palm oil plantations. The deforestation and land conversion is out of control and grows increasingly more brutal. The RSPO has been covering up such crimes while at the same time recommending new criteria and issuing new certificates to create a green image for the palm oil industry. The RSPO has been distracting the public from the real issues, and it is the orangutans and the indigenous people of Borneo who are paying the price with their own lives and livelihood. This cannot go on... (cop-8/11)

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