REA is a group that wants to grow responsibly. In an effort to mitigate as far as possible the environmental and social impacts associated with oil palm expansion, in early 2015 the group adopted a new policy and standard operating procedure for responsible development.
A critical stage of developing a new oil palm plantation is the land acquisition process. REA takes great care to ensure that all legal and customary land use rights linked to an area of land are systematically identified, verified and documented. Only if free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) is granted by any land use rights holders will the land acquisition and development process proceed.
Once an area of land has been acquired, REA endeavours to use it wisely. This means limiting oil palm cultivation to land that is agriculturally suitable and avoiding the development of primary forests and peat soils, which are high carbon stock areas, and other High Conservation Value (HCV) areas. Detailed land use plans for each concession are prepared based on the results of field surveys conducted prior to land clearing. This includes an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), soil survey, HCV assessment conducted by RSPO approved consultants, carbon stock assessment and, if necessary, a hydrological assessment. Whilst undertaking these surveys can significantly delay the commencement of land clearing, such detailed due diligence is critical to the group’s ability to develop sustainable palm oil operations. The REAK Group conducts bi-yearly social impact assessments in the communities surrounding the estates, focused on the perceptions of the households related to how the company’s activities have affected their daily lives.