The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has banned Golden Agri Resources (GAR) – one of the world’s largest palm oil companies – from acquiring or developing any new areas in Indonesia until a complaint by the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) has been resolved.

(Friday 8 May) The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has banned Golden Agri Resources (GAR) – one of the world’s largest palm oil companies – from acquiring or developing any new areas in Indonesia until a complaint by the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) has been resolved.

The RSPO complaints panel informed GAR in a letter on 6 May that it had reasonable grounds to conclude GAR had breached several RSPO principles and criteria relating to new plantings, maximum land holdings for plantations and free, informed, prior consent.

“GAR must take remedial steps to correct any shortcomings in its land acquisition process with the affected communities … [and] must honour its commitment to allocate 20% of the land for smallholders as it has promised to do,” the RSPO said in its letter. "The panel hereby prohibits GAR from acquiring or developing any new areas until this complaint has been dealt with to the satisfaction of the complaints panel."

GAR responded today saying it remained “committed to acting responsibly and working with stakeholders to address the outstanding issues raised”.

“Since November 2014, we have voluntarily put on hold land preparation for all new plantings as parties actively work to resolve issues that have been raised,” it said in a press release.

“GAR maintains that we have complied with the national laws and regulations in all aspects of our operations.”

The RSPO panel has asked GAR to respond by 20 May and GAR said it would be providing a fuller response later this month.

Marcus Colchester, senior policy advisor of the FPP, said the group was greatly encouraged by the RSPO upholding its standards.

“We hope this decision will now persuade GAR that is has to renegotiate with communities where it has taken over their lands without their informed consent. We need to eliminate all land-grabbing from the RSPO-endorsed supply chain.”

GAR is one of the world’s largest palm oil plantation and products company. It cultivates and harvests oil palm trees; processes fresh fruit bunch into crude palm oil (CPO) and palm kernel oil; and refines CPO into value-added products such as cooking oil, margarine and shortening. Through its subsidiaries, GAR operates palm oil processing mills, refineries and kernel crushing plants. GAR has several subsidiaries, including PT Smart. As of 31 December 2014, GAR had a total planted area of 472,800ha in Indonesia, according to Bloomberg Business.