REA operates in the Indonesian region of the island of Borneo, which is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet and a powerhouse for the provision of critical ecosystem services, including clean water, climate regulation and nutrient cycling. The longevity of REA’s business is wholly dependent on its ability to maintain and enhance this biodiversity.
As at 31 December 2014, REA had set aside some 17,300 hectares of natural habitat within its five concessions, accounting for 26% of the group’s total titled land area. By actively managing this network of conservation reserves, REA aims to make a tangible contribution to maintaining the natural biodiversity of the landscapes in which the group operates.
Since 2008, the conservation reserves within REA’s concessions have been managed by REA’s conservation department, which is known as REA Kon. The REA Kon team comprises both experienced conservationists and people from local villages who have a good knowledge of the biological and cultural diversity of the region. This department focuses on gaining a scientific understanding of the biodiversity present within and around the group’s oil palm concessions and ensuring that its agricultural activities, employees and the local communities do not have a detrimental impact on this biodiversity.
The expertise of the REA Kon team is augmented and shared through collaborations with both international and national scientific institutions and NGOs. Recent collaborations have included the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), the University of Mulawarman in Samarinda, East Kalimantan, the National University in Jakarta (UNAS) and the Natural History Museum of London.
With assistance from visiting scientists, REA Kon has recorded a remarkable number of species within the boundaries of the group’s oil palm concessions. To date, 504 species have been detected. This includes 78 species which are listed as ‘Near Threatened’ or above on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.