Responsible developmentTo mitigate the environmental and social impacts associated with oil palm expansion, the group has in place a 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 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, minimising the environmental impact of its operations by implementing international standards of best practice. 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, as embodies in the RSPO’s new planting procedure, upon which the group’s policy is based. 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 group conducts bi-yearly social impact assessments in the communities surrounding the estates, focused on the perceptions of the households as to how the company’s activities have affected their daily lives.