IOI Corporation Bhd (IOI) appreciates the effort made by Malaysiakini and its partners in Indonesia in highlighting the importance of eliminating the scourge of frequent, large-scale fires affecting many parts of Indonesia. Year in and year out, large swaths of forest and land have been burned, destroying biodiversity, contributing to global warming and causing haze that affects health and lives of many people in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.
The fire outbreaks in Indonesia, during the dry season, have many other contributing factors in addition to global warming, including El Nino and Indian Ocean Dipole weather phenomena. These factors should be scientifically and objectively analysed and a comprehensive action plan drawn by stakeholders. Zeroing on PT KPAM and pointing the finger on growers, especially those who are members of RSPO, MSPO and ISPO, might not be the most effective way of addressing the problem.
RSPO, MSPO and ISPO members, including IOI, can’t and would not use fire to clear land. It is prohibited, it is wrong, and it would be unthinkable for a well-established grower to do so and face the risk of losing its business, as a result. Land clearing is always done by heavy machinery, which we, whenever it is possible, make also available to local communities to help them with clearing their own farmland.
IOI indeed does not see any connection between land clearing by machinery and then planting oil palms, on one hand, and these two activities causing an increased risk of or exacerbating subsequent fires, on the other hand. There is no scientific evidence or even logical explanation of that. Land clearing in case of RSPO, MSPO and ISPO members has to follow very strict principles, criteria and guidelines. No land clearing and planting in case of PT KPAM, in 2019, were conducted in any breach of these strict regulations. Furthermore, we replanted the burned area this year, only after we have received the necessary approvals from Indonesian authorities.
Finally, a relatively large river cuts through our PT. KPAM concession. It is teeming with activities: fishing, hunting, and farming on its banks. Even residents of Central Kalimantan, which is not far away, come by river to this area. To complicate things further, there is also a third-party alluvial gold mining operation on Sungai Berais, with its own set of activities. This makes this area a high fire hazard area, very difficult to manage during the dry season.
IOI recognizes the importance of the issues raised by Malaysiakini and its Indonesian partners, and we are always ready to provide more information and share our experience in order to jointly find practical and workable solutions.