Confirmed: palm oil company destroys rainforest in Liberia

A truck driving through an oil palm plantation in Liberia Rainforest – including the habitat of chimpanzees – was destroyed for oil palm plantations in Liberia (© Mathias Rittgerott)

Mar 8, 2021

Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) is guilty of clearing richly biodiverse rainforest for oil palm plantations. This is the conclusion of a report by High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA), an agribusiness industry organization, confirming accusations that the local population and environmentalists have been making for years. GVL destroyed more than 1,000 hectares of forest, including chimpanzee habitat.

GVL’s oil palm plantations are located near Sapo National Park, where our partner organization Wild Chimpanzee Foundation (WCF) is active. The rainforests there are the habitat of chimpanzees, pygmy hippos and other endangered species. According to the report, GVL also violated the land and cultural rights of local communities, including the right to free prior and informed consent and social requirements on basic needs and grievance and remedy.

GLV is owned by the world’s second largest palm oil company, Singapore-based Golden Agri Resources, which in turn is part of the Sinar Mas conglomerate. Another part is the APP paper and pulp group. The Sinar Mas companies are responsible for rainforest destruction on a horrific scale in Indonesia, especially on Sumatra and Borneo.

In 2018, three organizations, including the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) in Liberia – another partner of Rainforest Rescue – filed a complaint against GLV with HCSA. Studies on forest destruction by GVL were the basis for the letter of complaint.

James Otto from SDI responded to the HCSA decision: “There is no denying anymore that GAR and GVL engaged in harmful practices resulting in deforestation and the violation of communities’ rights. These companies must now restore the forests and provide redress to affected communities. They should ensure that communities are leading forest restoration and management over their customary lands. The government of Liberia should urgently take up its role to enforce concession agreements and national policies to avoid deforestation and rights violations in all industrial monoculture plantations in Liberia.”

The HCSA is a voluntary standard used by agribusiness companies to assess their impact on forests. The HCSA is used by certification bodies such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).