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Ex timber crook’s palm oil firm threatens orangutan habitat

Dirty tricks of ex timber crook’s palm oil firm threatens orangutan habitat


LONDON: An area of Indonesian rainforest three times the size of Manhattan and home to endangered species such as orangutans and clouded leopards is under threat from a palm oil company run by one of the country’s most notorious former illegal logging kingpins.

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and its Indonesian partner Jaringan Pemantau Independen Kehutanan Kalimantan Tengah (JPIK Kalteng) have lodged a formal complaint with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) against PT Sawit Sumbermas Sarana (PT SSS) and its subsidiary PT Sawit Mandiri Lestari (PT SML).

PT SSS was founded by Abdul Rasyid, whose track record of forest crimes in Central Kalimantan stretches back to the late 1990s; in 2000, he was named by the Indonesian Government as one of the top 18 illegal logging bosses in the country.

In a December 2013 warning to potential investors in a US$90 million initial public offering for PT SSS, EIA revealed an independent evaluation of the firm’s prospectus showed illegal clearance of forest areas and direct threats to orangutan habitat posed by planned expansion of the firm’s oil palm plantations.

The RSPO complaint addresses failings in the New Planting Procedure of PT SSS subsidiary PT SML which will lead to violations of the RSPO Standard. PT SML claims rights to an oil palm concession located in Kabupaten Lamandau, Central Kalimantan Province, Indonesia.

EIA Forest Campaigner Tomasz Johnson said: “This is unfortunately yet another case of a palm oil company riding roughshod over regulations and the rights of indigenous people in the area concerned and resorting to a variety of dirty tricks to do it.”

The key failures outlined in the complaint are:

  • consultations with affected communities did not take place, despite claims that they were undertaken as required;
  • High Value Conservation (HCV) areas within the concession were not identified;
  • the required HCV Assessment and Social and Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) were seriously flawed and affected communities did not have opportunity to participate in them;
  • the AMDAL process was not carried out in accordance with the law;
  • PT SML has not yet obtained the permits that are a prerequisite to land clearing.

The concession comprises 16,857ha of secondary forest identified as the habitat of the Bornean orangutan, clouded leopard, critically endangered flora and dozens of other endangered species.

Jago Wadley, EIA Senior Forest Campaigner, said: “This RSPO grievance will likely add to the reasons that responsible palm oil buyers, investors and financiers are increasingly distancing themselves from the destructive practices exhibited PT SSS. EIA urges all responsible actors in the palm oil value chain to closely examine whether PT SSS and its subsidiaries meet their social and environmental policies or not.”


  • Interviews are available on request; please contact Forest Campaigner Tomasz Johnson via [email protected] or Press & Communications Officer Paul Newman via [email protected], or telephone +44 20 7354 7960.



  1. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) investigates and campaigns against environmental crime and abuses.
  1. View the full text of the complaint at


Environmental Investigation Agency
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Tel: +44 207 354 7960