Palm oil giant Olam under scrutiny again over Gabon plantations

Palm oil giant Olam under scrutiny again over Gabon plantations

The World Rainforest Movement (WRM) has accused Singapore-based agribusiness company Olam of making meaningless “zero deforestation” pledges about a major oil palm development in Gabon and neglecting the rights of local communities. In a report published last month, WRM also says Olam is failing to fulfill commitments made to villagers in the central-southern province of Ngounié before tens of thousands of hectares of new oil palm plantations were established. Oil Palm Gabon, a joint venture between Olam and the government of Gabon set up in 2011, has total concessions of 144,000 hectares (355,800 acre); 56,000 ha (138,400 acres) have been planted with oil palm, and 72,000 ha (177,900 acres) permanently protected. No new plantations have been developed since 2017 and there are currently no plans for any more, Olam said. Forest clearance for oil palm by Olam, in Kango, Gabon. Image by Alexander De Marcq. WRM says Olam’s claims to have protected forests of high conservation or high carbon value and to have sited plantations only on locations mapped as “grassland, secondary regrowth or degraded logging areas” are untrue. “In fact, Olam hired a logging company to fell timber with any commercial value,” WRM said, “[and] the profits generated were then shared between the logging company, the Gabonese state and the communities.” The oil palm plantations could then be developed on this “degraded” land. Olam said the allegations raised in the report are “factually inaccurate and false.” Olam’s group head of external affairs, Steve Fairbairn, said WRM appeared to have mistaken…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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