Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) wants to ensure that our palm oil operations are deforestation-free, traceable and bring benefits to the communities where we operate. We were one of the first major agri-businesses in the world to publish a Forest Conservation Policy, now embedded in our GAR Social and Environmental Policy (GSEP).
The Forest Conservation Policy was developed in 2011 in partnership with The Forest Trust (TFT) and since then GAR has focused on implementation of its many requirements, first on our own plantations and managed estates, and more recently throughout our supply chain.
GAR committed to protecting forests that included High Carbon Stock (HCS) and High Conservation Value (HCV) areas in 2011. Since then we have assessed our concession areas and mapped 72,000 hectares (an area equivalent to the size of Singapore), which are now set aside for conservation. This helps us deliver UN SDG 15 which aims to sustainably manage forests and halt biodiversity loss. We remain fully compliant with our no deforestation commitments in the GSEP. There was no illegal/non-compliant deforestation in 2018 in our operations.
With no development on HCS forests and HCV areas and peatlands, we are required to engage with and respect the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. This is underpinned by legal compliance, deforestation monitoring and a commitment to demonstrable industry best practice through the compliance with national and international standards and certifications.
Mitigating climate change
Our commitment to forest conservation and no development on peat represents the biggest contribution we can make in avoiding GHG emissions which contribute to climate change. This is in line with UN SDG 13 on taking action to combat climate change.
Recognising that we produce GHG emissions from our operations, we are continuously looking for ways to reduce emissions using the best available technology. We are currently completing baseline studies of our GHG emissions and aim to set reduction targets by 2018.
While we continue to complete and design our overall GHG emission reduction strategy, we have already instituted several emission reduction measures. We have set up bio-digester facilities to capture waste methane gas in Central Kalimantan at our Hanau, Sungai Rungau, Perdana and Semilar mills. In addition to the bio-digester facility at Sei Pelakar mill in Jambi and the tank digesters in Libo and Rama-Rama mills in Riau, we now have a total of seven methane capture facilities. Amongst other things, the methane gas is used as an alternative energy source, generating electricity for our factory operations. We estimate that through methane capture and avoidance of fossil fuels, the methane capture facilities reduce between 40 to 55 percent of operational GHG emissions where they are sited.
GAR has also built two biodiesel plants in South Kalimantan and near Jakarta, to extend our product range to include the use of palm oil as a biofuel, and is in response to the policy of the Indonesian government supporting biofuel production. The two plants have a total capacity of 600,000 tonnes per annum.
Landscape approach to conservation
We are focused on working with the local communities around and beyond our concession areas. We are involving the community in conservation efforts through inclusive approaches including Participatory Mapping (PM) and Participatory Conservation Planning (PCP). Through PM, GAR and local communities map the land use in its concessions. The mapping allows all stakeholders to identify and designate critical areas for the community such as areas important for food security as well as conservation areas. This spatial plan is recognised formally and lodged with local authorities. The exercise also allows us to involve the community in conservation planning. To date, we have secured agreements with over 10 villages to protect more than 7000 hectares of forest in community conservation partnerships. This is in addition to the conservation area we have set aside in our concessions.
We are also actively supporting the Aceh Tamiang landscape work with TFT and other growers. The aim is long-term protection of the Leuser Ecosystem boundaries.
Participatory mapping guide
Since 2016, starting with a pilot in the Semitau region we have been monitoring deforestation using the following methods:
1) Satellite-based monitoring and radar technology. Change alerts are provided every 24 days for all conservation areas
2) Baseline mapping update with two company-owned drones which take high-resolution imagery of all conservation areas once every semester
3) Ground verification and reporting by plantation staff for areas where we receive change alerts from the radar monitoring
We are rolling out this monitoring to all estates from 2017. The monitoring will cover all HCS forests and 70 percent of HCV areas.