Forest conservation

Tropical forests, like those in Indonesia, are some of the most biodiverse areas on Earth. These forests are not only vital to the species (large and small) housed within, but also to millions of people who depend on them for their livelihoods.

For an agribusiness such as PT SMART Tbk (SMART), forests also provide a variety of valuable ecosystem services – protecting soils and freshwater resources – that are vital to the future of our business. Conserving them is in our own interests.

This realisation was behind the launch of the pioneering Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) in 2011 as part of our efforts to delink deforestation from production. The FCP is a key tenet of our GAR Social and Environmental Policy (GSEP), and informs the No Deforestation, No Peat, and No Exploitation – or NDPE – commitments within the GSEP. Today, we remain committed to ensuring that our palm oil operations are deforestation-free, traceable, and benefit the communities where we operate.

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We are committed to protecting forests that contain High Carbon Stock (HCS) and High Conservation Value (HCV) areas. Since then we have assessed our concession areas and mapped over 9,300 hectares which are now set aside for conservation. This helps us deliver UN SDG 15 which aims to sustainably manage forests and halt biodiversity loss.

Our conservation efforts are also aligned with UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically SDG 15 Life on Land, which aims to manage forests sustainably and stop biodiversity loss.

High Carbon Stock (HCS) Approach

The forest landscapes across Indonesia are a mix of vegetation ranging from grassland to scrub, regenerating forest to dense forests with a high canopy, all of which contain large stores of carbon.

The High Carbon Stock (HCS) Approach pioneered by Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) in partnership with the Earthworm Foundation and Greenpeace, as part of our original Forest Conservation Policy in 2011. The policy is now embedded in the GAR Social and Environmental Policy (GSEP).

The HCS Approach provides a methodology and toolkit to help plan land use. It educates land managers on how to define forest types and make informed decisions about what land can be developed and what should be conserved. The HCS Approach aims to balance ecological and environmental values with the rights and needs of indigenous peoples and local communities.

Together with our parent company, GAR, we have conducted a pilot project using this methodology in West and Central Kalimantan and continues to roll out HCS assessments across its estate and supply chain. We have turned our focus to yield improvement in our existing plantations instead, in line with our goal to delink production from deforestation.

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High Carbon Stock (HCS) Forest in the Tropics

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Protecting High Conservation Value (HCV) areas

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All natural habitats have inherent conservation value. They may contain species unique to that location for example, or have specific cultural importance.High Conservation Values (HCV) refer to areas where the biological, ecological, social or cultural value is outstandingly significant at a national, regional or international level.

As early as 2011, our parent company, GAR, committed to protecting areas that are HCV. We conduct HCV assessments using qualified assessors prior to any new development. GAR does not operate in nationally and internationally designated protected areas.

Restoring riparian zones

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Our management of HCV areas includes the rehabilitation of riparian zones that have previously been cleared or planted. Riparian buffers refer to the natural vegetation along the banks of water bodies. They control erosion and function as a buffer to pollutants entering the waters from agricultural runoff.

Recognising the ecological importance of riparian buffer zones, our parent company, GAR has been actively working on maintaining and restoring these zones across our operations since 2018. We have rehabilitated and revegetated around 2,800 hectares of riparian zones.

Our research facility, SMARTRI, is collaborating with Cambridge University on a riparian restoration research project, RERTA, to determine the best methods for restoration.

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Landscape approach to conservation

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We take a landscape approach to conservation, beyond the boundaries of our concessions. Our community conservation partnerships, which began in 2015, are an example of this. Together with our parent company, GAR, we have pioneered inclusive approaches such as Participatory Mapping (PM) and Participatory Conservation Planning (PCP) to involve the community in conservation planning.Through PM, we are working with 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.

Download our Participatory Mapping guidelines here

Monitoring deforestation

Together with GAR, we monitor deforestation across our concessions closely using the following methods:
Satellite-based monitoring and radar technology

Change alerts are provided every 24 days for all conservation areas

Baseline mapping update

Drones take high-resolution imagery of all conservation areas once every semester

Ground verification and reporting

Plantation staff report directly from areas where we have received change alerts through radar monitoring

GAR join RADD

In 2019, our parent company, GAR, joined a pioneering industry initiative to improve surveillance of deforestation in Indonesia. Together with nine other major palm oil producers and buyers, GAR is supporting and funding the development of a new radar-based forest monitoring system known as Radar Alerts for Detecting Deforestation (RADD). RADD will help us address issues even more swiftly as it will allow us to monitor deforestation in real-time.We have also partnered with agritech company, Satelligence to deliver near real-time deforestation risk monitoring of our palm oil concessions and supply chain, covering all of Indonesia. Satelligence pulls insights from supply chain asset data, satellite intelligence, and human resources to monitor on the ground risks.

Read more about our efforts to promote forest conservation and biodiversity