A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a patch of Indonesian rainforest that was cut down for palm-oil production. Activists went on the offensive, targeting the agribusiness Astra Agro Lestari and Mandarin Oriental Hotels, which is part of the same conglomerate. On Thursday, Astra announced that it had placed a moratorium on all forest clearance:
As a key initiative in developing its commitment to becoming a signatory to the Indonesian Palm Oil Pledge (“IPOP”), Astra Agro Lestari (“AAL”) has today introduced an immediate moratorium whereby it will stop all land conversion. Accordingly, AAL will ensure that there will be no clearance of any natural forest either by the Company or any of its contractors across all its operations in Indonesia.
Activists hailed the company for taking action, and laid out the next steps:
“We commend Astra for moving quickly to respond to concerned citizens and investors around the world,” said Vemund Olsen, of Rainforest Foundation Norway, in a statement. “The moratorium is a critical first step to protect Indonesia’s rapidly disappearing rainforests. Astra now needs to bring transparency to its work by joining other companies in disclosing its plantation locations and those of its suppliers.”
It’s a long road for palm oil, but this is one step closer to sustainability.