Major forest-saving announcement

Feature Story - 15 February, 2011
For three years Greenpeace has targeted Sinar Mas – Indonesia’s most notorious forest destroyer – to end its role in forest destruction. Last week, we made a positive step forward.

Deforested Land in East Kalimantan

On Wednesday 9 February, the palm oil branch of Sinar Mas, Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), announced a plan to stop destroying Indonesia's forests and peatlands - the first Indonesian palm oil company to make such commitments.

If properly implemented, the plan could be an historic step toward full forest and peatland protection in Indonesia and could also mean the survival of endangered wildlife like the orang-utan.

The announcement comes after our three-year campaign convincing large palm oil buyers to cancel their contracts with GAR. The campaign is having an impact. With the support of thousands of people worldwide, we convinced the world's largest food company (Nestlé), the world's largest bank (HSBC), a global restaurant brand (Burger King) and one of the largest buyers of palm oil on the planet (Unilever) to take action. And now we have a groundbreaking commitment from GAR.

In many ways, our work has just begun. We can't protect the orang-utan and other endangered species and achieve our goal of zero deforestation in Indonesia by 2015 if GAR doesn't follow through with its plan. That's why we have to make sure it does.. GAR has a shady track record, so while its 'on paper' commitments announced last week are important, we'll be closely monitoring its next steps to ensure they become real action that protects rainforests. In particular, we will monitor GAR's commitment to not clear carbon-rich forests.

And while this is a great step forward, Sinar Mas has a long way to go to clean up its act. It's a massive conglomerate and this deal is only with its palm oil branch. Sinar Mas' paper arm - Asia Pulp & Paper continues to destroy forest unabated. This is unacceptable and it's something we intend to change.

"This announcement from GAR challenges the rest of the sector to find other ways of increasing productivity without destroying new areas of rainforest, and that's been the main issue," said Forests campaigner Paul Winn. "The rest of the Sinar Mas group and the entire palm oil industry need to realise that saving the world's last remaining rainforests is good for business."