WWF, Tropical Forest Trust, and Perhutani: more unanswered questions

Some readers of FSC-Watch will no doubt have been surprised to learn that the UK-based NGO Soil Association has, through it’s subsidiary certification body WoodMark, started the process of certifying parts of the notorious Indonesian plantation company Perhutani.

More surprising still, perhaps, is the news that WWF has also been collaborating with Perhutani, which stands accused of gross human rights violations. WWF recently allowed Perhutani to join the prestigious Global Forest and Trade Network (GFTN) – though WWF have not disclosed how much money Perhutani have paid for this privilege.

At the end of November, the following letter was sent to Darius Sashar, who heads up WWF’s GFTN, and Scott Poynton, who heads up the Tropical Forest Trust (which has apparently also been working to get Perhutani certified by the FSC), asking questions about their ‘collaboration’ with the company.

As yet, there has been no response…

Dear Scott and Darius

I have recently learned that TFT and WWF have been ‘working with Perhutani’, evidently to bring it (back) to a state in which it (or the ‘best’ parts of it, perhaps) could be FSC certified. I am aware that Soil Association WoodMark are in the process of starting the certification assessment procedure for two management units.

I am particularly interested to know how TFT and WWF have been considering the human rights aspects of Perhutani’s operations. As you will be aware, the company (and its predecessor Perum Perhutani) has long been associated with gross human rights violations. Information which has been compiled by Indonesian researchers (see here), indicates that, amongst other things, the company has been responsible for the ******** dead of 24 people in the last eight years, and that there have been more than 40 other incidents of what the Indonesians describe as ‘*******’.

Have you assessed these matters, and if so have you concluded either that Perhutani has now permanently ceased such acts of brutality, or that they are irrelevant to the question of whether Perhutani is certifiable or not?

In respect of the two people that have reportedly died at the hands of Perhutani this year, do you perhaps consider that this is a ‘stepwise improvement’ in the company’s performance that should be recognised through FSC certification?

Do you consider that the two specific plantation management areas under assessment by Soil Association can be certified even though the rest of the company perhaps continues to be involved in brutality and murder?

Have you taken into account the information contained in the report on FSC-Watch (as above) which indicates that there are still serious tenure conflicts in the area now being considered for certification?

I look forward to hearing from you.


Simon Counsell


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