Care for Environment

The imperative of sustainability relating to the environment involves the Group’s stewardship through ‘Care for Environment’. The Group believes that it has an important role in identifying opportunities to create value, reduce carbon emissions, mitigate adverse environmental impacts and also promote environmental protection, conservation and biodiversity enhancement. The Group’s environmental stewardship entails employing relevant and site-specific best management practices which include sustainable resource management relating to soil, water, air and waste. Also included is the tree planting projects involved in reforestation and rehabilitation programmes aiming to enhance the ecological functionality of the forest remnants in within the plantation landscapes.

The Group adopts and embraces the principles, criteria and good practices already in place in defining sustainable palm oil production which make up the building blocks or foundation for sustainable tropical commodity agriculture.

The Group is committed to no deforestation of High Conservation Value (HCV) and High Carbon Stock (HCS) areas in any new land development activities. The Group is also committed to no new development on peatlands in regardless of any depth. The Group strives to commit new development contractors, crop suppliers and relevant stakeholders within the supply chain to adhere to the commitments.

Existing plantings on peat are managed according to industry best management practices in order to minimise carbon emission and safeguarding the long-term productivity of the cultivated land. The HCV areas located within the plantation are conserved and monitored periodically in accordance to the regulations, guidelines and criteria of the sustainability certifications.

The Group believes that conservation initiatives are vital to ensure the objectives of conserving the areas are fulfilled and able to deliver their ecological values and benefits. The Group adopts dynamic management approach in managing the conservation sites located within the plantation, which includes the establishment of constructive partnership with external stakeholders and active engagement with surrounding communities. These include tree planting activities, collaboration with Sabah Forestry Department in establishing database for the Secret Garden- one of the conservation sites in Sungai Sabang estate, Sabah, as well as awareness training on topics pertaining to wildlife conservation and protection in collaboration with Sabah Wildlife Department. Flood prone areas and riparian reserves that were previously planted with oil palms were rehabilitated and restored with suitable local tree species. The rehabilitation works aimed to restore its natural vegetative cover with cost-effective techniques.

The Group adheres to a strict zero burning policy where no fire was involved in land preparation during replanting and new development activities. Zero burning policy is applied to all the Groups’ crop suppliers, contractors and other relevant stakeholders in the supply chain. The Group’s standard operating procedures are also in place to ensure strict compliance with the zero burning policy and continuous engagement with local communities on the zero burning practices in their agricultural activities.

Nevertheless, fires may still occur at areas where land clearing activity using fire are carried out by communities and smallholders. The Group monitors and detects any fire hotspots within its concession areas and also surrounding areas within a 500-meter radius outside the concession boundaries using the data extracted from the Fire information for Resource Management System (“FIRMS”), a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (“NASA”) funded application. Any hotspot detected will trigger an alert process and information such as coordinates and time occurrence of fire were sent to the respective operating units and sustainability teams for ground verification.

The Group also monitored and conducted regular patrolling at the high fire risk areas using information from the Fire Risk Rating Indicators and surveillance from the ground watchtowers.

Fire hotspot alert and updates are summarised as follows:

Location No. of Hotspots No. of Confirmed Fires Date Detected Inside Concession Outside Concession Description / Updates
Sabah, Malaysia 1 0 29.10.2021 - - Upon investigation, no fire was detected at the location.
Sumatra, Indonesia 3 3 10.10.2021 3 - Fires were detected at the locations.

Cause of fire: Unknown source

Action Taken:
a. Fire was extinguished by estate's ERP team.
b. Fire incidence was recorded and reported.
Kalimantan, Indonesia 1 1 30.09.2021 - 1 Fires were detected at the locations.

Cause of fire: Land clearing by local communities for agriculture purpose

Action Taken:
a. Continue to monitor hotspot.
b. Fire incidence was recorded and reported.
Kalimantan, Indonesia 1 1 27.09.2021 - 1 Fires were detected at the locations.

Cause of fire: Land clearing by local communities for agriculture purpose

Action Taken:
a. Continue to monitor hotspot.
b. Fire incidence was recorded and reported.
Kalimantan, Indonesia 4 3 14.09.2021 - 3 Fires were detected at the locations.

Cause of fire: Land clearing by local communities for agriculture purpose

Action Taken:
a. Fires were extinguished by estate's ERP team.
b. Continue to monitor hotspot.
c. Fire incidence was recorded and reported.

* Hotspot alert is updated after verification on the ground.
Refer to the link for previous hotspot record (Link).

Updated as at 30.10.2021

Responsible stewardship of natural resources involves a commitment towards utilising, protecting and enhancing the resources in a sustainable manner. In this respect, the Group adopts a comprehensive environmental management system that covers all aspects from oil palm cultivation to palm oil milling. This management system comprises sustainable agricultural practices, relevant policies, operating procedures, performance monitoring and audit reviews.

Water Management

Water management is an essential basic business conduct in oil palm operations. With the constant changes in the weather patterns, the Group has adopted a wide-ranging environmental management strategy to manage the available water resources. The Group’s strategies in water management leads towards water use optimization and reduction in water wastage. The Group strives to ensure water resources are utilised in the most optimum way with minimal impacts to the environment.

Effluent Management

Palm Oil Mill Effluents (“POME”) generated from the Group’s operations were managed in accordance with the guidelines and regulatory requirements. POME generated from the Group’s mill operations was treated by the ponding system and further treated with a tertiary treatment system to achieve permissible quality limits. The treated POME was then reused to irrigate the field through approved land irrigation and land application systems.

Discharge water samples were collected at various designated sampling stations for testing by a third-party laboratory. The Biochemical Oxygen Demand (“BOD”) and Chemical Oxygen Demand (“COD”) were among the parameters tested on a monthly basis by accredited laboratories where the analysis results were then submitted to the local environmental authorities on a quarterly basis.

(Latest annual average values for BOD & COD)

Soil Management

The Group has adopted the plantation industry’s best management practices in soil management to improve soil fertility, reduce erosion and address pollution management in every operating unit that can be summarised as follows:

  1. Adhering to no burning policy for all new planting and replanting activities
  2. Improving soil fertility with scientific based inorganic fertliser programme and palm oil milling byproduct utilisation
  3. Adopting no blanket spraying policy in the plantations
  4. Preventing soil erosion at slope areas through terracing and no development at steep slope with gradient more than 25 degree
  5. Enhancing vegetative covers in the plantations with soft grasses, ferns, beneficial plants and legume cover crops
  6. Establishing cover crops as soon as possible after land clearing to minimize soil erosion and land degradation
  7. Maintaining natural ground vegetation to maintain soil moisture and prevent soil loss
  8. Frond stacking to reduce water runoff and improve soil fertility
  9. Mulching with empty fruit bunch (EFB) to improve soil conditions and moisture
  10. Maintaining water table with proper drainage systems, water gates and weirs

Apart from designated conservation areas, forest buffer zones along the boundary of government gazetted forest reserves and riparian reserves along the natural waterways within the concession areas were protected and left-aside from any new or replanting activities. The width of buffer zones was determined in accordance to the guidelines and conditions set under the local laws and regulations. The Group had also established its Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the management of riparian reserves, which provide the guidelines and do’s and don’ts for the management of the riparian reserves, such as no chemical application and only allows manual weeding or slashing on the palm circles and for the harvester’s path to facilitate the access to harvesting activities.

SOP Riparian Reserves Management

Updated as at 03 October 2019

The Group is committed not to use the chemicals that fall under the World Health Organisation (WHO) Class Ia and Ib and the Stockholm or Rotterdam Conventions, when there are effective and safer alternatives available. Only chemicals approved by the Pesticide Board are used in the operations. In addition, the Group had phased out and stopped purchasing Paraquat, and use safer Class III and IV pesticides wherever possible.

All the chemical handlers are equipped with suitable personal protection equipment (PPE) and regularly trained on the relevant safe operating procedures. The Group practices integrated pest management (IPM) which consists of four major components – Prevention, Monitoring, Physical Control and Chemical Intervention as the last resort. Beneficial plants such as Cassia cobanensis are planted at estates and predatory bugs were released to the field as biological control of pest in the field. The research team is responsible to conduct pest and disease (P&D) census and regular monitoring to ensure the P&D are below the threshold levels.