Indonesia — A fire is burning within a concession controlled by PT Menteng Jaya Sawit Perdana in Indonesian Borneo turning up the heat on its parent company, the Malaysia-based conglomerate Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad (KLK), which supplies “sustainably-produced” palm oil to companies like Cargill and is already under investigation for breaching Indonesia’s new moratorium on forest conversion, according to the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).
EIA says that satellite data from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) has registered “a high percentage certainty of a fire” within PT Menteng’s concession area on June 22-23.
The revelation comes just days after KLK’s plantations director Roy Lim was quoted as stating: “KLK has long abandoned using fire to clear land for new planting or replanting. Our policy and practice is zero burning for such activities.”
EIA is now calling for KLK to prove its claim.
“KLK should prove it is not carrying out land burning in its plantation or its denials will amount to no more than hot air,” said EIA Senior Forest Campaigner Jago Wadley. “This evidence puts KLK very much in the hot spot.”
Open burning is prohibited under both Indonesian law and sustainability standards set by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Worse, the fires are burning within an area prohibited from conversion under Indonesia’s forest moratorium. The area of peat forest was illegally cleared by PT Menteng, according to an undercover investigation last month by EIA and Telapak.
EIA and Telapak say their analysis of MODIS data revealed fires in other areas ostensibly covered by Indonesias moratorium.
“With burning season entering full swing in Indonesia, [we] are concerned that Indonesias commitment to REDD+ remains in danger of failing without significant law enforcement reforms,” said the groups in a joint statement.