Palm oil firms try to balance forest protection and development
By Megan Rowling
BARCELONA, Dec 18 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Some of the biggest companies that produce, trade and use palm oil will try out a new method for balancing forest protection with the need to allow developing economies to grow, which would allow a limited amount of land to be cleared for plantations.
The High Carbon Stock Science Study, released this week, was commissioned by some of the largest players in the palm oil industry and conducted by an independent panel of scientists.
The methodology it proposes, called HCS+, would conserve all forests that store more than 75 tonnes of carbon per hectare above ground - including old-growth forests and well-established secondary forests - as well as forests on peat and other organic soils.
Companies using the system would be expected to offset the carbon released when cutting down trees in permitted areas by setting aside other forests or through the oil palm they plant.
The method also pledges to protect human rights and improve living standards for local people.
Jonathon Porritt, co-chair of the study steering committee, said HCS+ "gives the industry a unique opportunity to reconcile its wholly legitimate economic interests with the critical need to protect forests, reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, and support the rights and wellbeing of local communities and smallholders".
The study is clear that the method aims to minimise deforestation, rather than rule it out completely.
In recent years, a growing number of multinational companies have pledged to reduce or remove deforestation and forest degradation in their supply chains. Continuación...