Palm industry body to act against any members contributing to smog

by Reuters
Friday, 20 September 2019 11:08 GMT

ARCHIVE PHOTO: An Indonesian soldier walks between burned palm oil trees as haze shroud a palm oil plantation at Jebus village in Muaro Jambi, on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, September 16, 2015.REUTERS/Beawiharta

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The RSPO will act against any palm planter members found to be intentionally setting fires or negligent in containing hotspots on their concessions, it said in a statement.

JAKARTA, Sept 20 (Reuters) - A palm oil industry group is investigating if fires in Indonesia and Malaysia causing hazardous smog that is now wreathing Southeast Asia are on plantations owned by its members, and will take action against them, it said on Friday.

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) said that by Monday it had detected a total of 278 hotspots that were within concessions it had certified, from a total of 73,508 hotspots across Malaysia and Indonesia.

The neighbours produce about 85% of the world's palm oil, which is used in a wide range of goods, from food to cleaning products and fuel.

The RSPO will act against any palm planter members found to be intentionally setting fires or negligent in containing hotspots on their concessions, it said in a statement.

"Fire - whether intentionally set for land clearing or accidental - is prohibited under the RSPO standard, and it's an issue we must take very seriously due to its impact on communities and the environment," it added.

Indonesia is experiencing its worst forest fires this year since 2015, as an El Nino weather pattern exacerbates the annual dry season.

Slash-and-burn practices in farming, usually for palm, are often blamed when flames rage out of control and spread out over forest and peatland.

The RSPO said it was investigating members linked to recent fires in Indonesia to gather information and verify details.

Planters found to have intentionally used fire to clear land could face repercussions, such as suspension of membership in the grouping.

(Reporting by Bernadette Christina Munthe and Fransiska Nangoy; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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