PETALING JAYA: The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has clarified that only a small portion of the current fires in Indonesia is attributable to its members.
According to satellite data, 0.38% of the 73,508 hotspots detected over the last three weeks were in plantations owned by RSPO members.
Out of that small number, 79% of the hotspots detected occurred in land still pending certification by RSPO, while the rest of the hotspots were in land owned by certified RSPO members.
RSPO is an organisation which aims to develop and implement sustainable palm oil standards, with stakeholders from across the palm oil industry.
It has more than 4,000 members worldwide who have committed to producing or sourcing sustainable palm oil.
In a virtual press conference, RSPO chief executive Datuk Darrel Webber said the organisation had been actively monitoring any instances of fire on members’ plantations using satellite technology.
“When a hotspot is detected, the member will be called up and will be monitored to see how well they have managed the fire from their unit in Kuala Lumpur.
“Any instance of fire we take seriously. Whether it is intentional or accidental – it is hard to know at this point.
“The instance of fire will be investigated by certification bodies at the next round of audit. If they find that the RSPO members have been negligent, they will be put through the complaints process which may lead to suspension and possibly termination of membership, ” he said yesterday.
Research in 2017, he said, had shown that RSPO members encounter significantly lower risk of fires, though there may still be occurrences due to fires in neighbouring plantations.
He added that based on historical data, the number of hotspots tend to peak in October and likely to continue until November.
Four Malaysian companies - Sime Darby Plantation, IOI Corporation, TDM Bhd and Kuala Lumpur Kepong (KLK) Bhd – reportedly had their subsidiaries’ plantations sealed off by Indonesian authorities over the fires.
Checks on the RSPO website showed that the four companies are members of the organisation.
Sime Darby Plantation and IOI Corporation disputed reports that their subsidiaries’ plantations were sealed off while KLK confirmed that there was a forest fire in one of its estates but it had been put out the same day.