As a major player in the palm oil sector, we have a significant role in promoting sustainable forest management in our industry. We also play a part in contributing to the protection of critical ecosystems and biodiversity in and around the landscapes where we operate. We are deeply committed to environmental stewardship, and continuously strive to minimize and mitigate the impact of our operations. We enhance the state of the natural environment where possible and to identify areas where we can make a difference.
Our sustainability strategy is aligned with our commitment to the New York Declaration on Forests and provides the basis for implementing our 2020 No Deforestation targets.
Under our Sustainability Policy, we have made specific commitments to No Deforestation of High Conservation Value (HCV) areas and High Carbon Stock (HCS) forests. Since November 2005, Musim Mas does not develop primary forests or any areas that contain one or more HCVs. HCV identification, conservation and monitoring have been implemented across all our existing operations. We also conduct HCS and Social and Environmental Impact Assessments (SEIAs) prior to any new land development.
As part of our commitment to conservation, we are also dedicated to biodiversity conservation and the protection of Rare, Threatened and Endangered (RTE) species.
Our effort to monitor deforestation in the concessions of our third-party suppliers is being supported by Aidenvironment, our consultant, through their proprietary database and information platform. We also work with our key suppliers and other critical stakeholders through collaborative initiatives and platforms to support the wider implementation of our commitments and other conservation activities.
Responsible Land Use Planning
Musim Mas always ensures that land development is carried out responsibly. We follow the RSPO New Planting Procedure (NPP), which is applicable to all new plantings since 1 January 2010. The NPP is implemented through a set of comprehensive and participatory technical assessments including:
Musim Mas conducts HCV and HCS assessments prior to all new land development following the requirements and definitions set out by the HCS Approach (HSCA) and the HCV Resource Network Assessor Licensing Scheme (ALS). We only engage HCV ALS accredited assessors for HCV assessments, and have engaged external assessors approved as HCS Approach Registered Practitioner Organizations to lead our HCS evaluations.
We have also adapted our HCS assessments to follow the guidelines of the HCS Approach Toolkit Version 2.0 launched in May 2017.
All of our operations have undergone HCV assessments. Those conducted after January 2015 are available on the HCV Resource Network website at https://hcvnetwork.org/.
Conservation Areas and Landscape Initiatives
Musim Mas conducts regular and comprehensive biodiversity surveys in and around our concession areas. These surveys include desktop reviews of the availability of flora and fauna, the collection of samples during field visits, and interviews with local communities to assist us in maintaining inventories of plant and animal species and their critical habitats.
Our HCV management plans for existing plantations are reviewed and updated annually. These include action plans for the protection and survival of Rare, Threatened and Endangered (RTE) species and species protected by law, and for the prevention of hunting within and outside our concession areas. The hunting of RTE species, and species protected by law, is prohibited in all our concessions, and we do not operate within nationally designated protected areas.
To eliminate hunting within our concessions, workers and their families are also prohibited from keeping wildlife in captivity. To help prevent such practices from taking place within the wider landscape, we engage with the communities surrounding our operations with constructive conversations regarding these issues and raise awareness about the importance of conservation.
Additional measures have been taken to prevent illegal development within forest and conservation areas. We conduct ground patrols and monitor encroachment by analyzing Landsat images of mapped areas.
We have taken steps to restore our set-aside areas, with the hope of reverting these areas to their natural state as much as possible. For example, we started working with the Indonesian Forestry Agency in 2009 to restore our riparian zones by replacing palms with jungle trees.
Musim Mas does not conduct any new plantings on peatlands, regardless of depth. There have been no new plantings on peat areas since 1 January 2008 at any company under the Musim Mas Group management.
For our existing plantations on peat, we are committed to apply best management practices in accordance with Indonesian regulations and as required by other sustainability requirements. We have developed a network of water control structures to regulate water levels and maintain water tables according to these best management practices and regulations. We conduct appropriate drainability assessments prior to replanting to determine the long-term viability of the drainage.
Musim Mas is working with the Indonesian Environmental and Forestry Ministry, Kementerian Lingkungan Hidup dan Kehutanan (KLHK), to evaluate our existing plantings on peat and identify critical areas for restoration. We have mapped the topography, hydro-topography, peat depth, water management systems and water level monitoring plots across our peatland plantings. These maps have been submitted to KLHK.
We are committed to operating in a manner that minimizes our net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We map and monitor all GHG emission sources in our own operations, including those related to land use change and non-land use activities. We calculate our GHG emissions using the latest RSPO PalmGHG calculator (version 3.0.1) in accordance with RSPO and POIG GHG requirements. We also use the GHG Protocol accounting standard to calculate our scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions for disclosure through the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), which we have been participating in since 2015.
Emissions from peat are the single biggest contributor to our GHG footprint, followed by emissions from land conversion, Field N2O discharge, fertilizers and palm oil mill effluent (POME). These are partially offset by carbon sequestration in palm trees and emission credits from the export of electricity and palm kernel shells. More significantly, the installation of methane capture facilities at our palm oil mills reduces our GHG emissions by hundreds of thousand tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) every year. Peat has a significant impact on our GHG emissions. We apply best management practices and are working to evaluate our existing plantings on peat to identify critical areas for restoration.
Our GHG emission intensity has seen a rapid decline over the years, which is due to the various best management practices Musim Mas has undertaken since 2006, such as no new planting on peat since 1 January 2008, the installation of methane capture, optimizing chemicals use through Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and precision agriculture. Although a significant proportion of the potential reduction has already been realized, we will continue to lower our GHG emission intensity by improving our water management in peat areas and increasing our FFB yield and oil extraction rate.
We aim to reduce our emission intensity by 55% compared to the 2006 baseline in 2025.
As co-chair of the RSPO Emissions Reduction Working Group and co-lead of the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) GHG Working Group, we share our experience on leading GHG reduction and monitoring practices with other companies and organizations. Together with the ISPO Commission, the GHG Working Group has formulated calculation guidelines for Palm Oil plantations in Indonesia.
The processing of FFB results in a liquid waste known as palm oil mill effluent (POME). POME is usually treated using a process of anaerobic digestion in deep open lagoons. This reduces effluent toxicity levels, but releases methane, a GHG with a global warming potential 34 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Our methane capture system prevents methane gas from being released into the atmosphere by tightly sealing lagoons with high-density polyethylene. This enables us to capture and harness methane from POME treatment to fuel the generation of electricity, which we use to power our mills, estates and workers’ housing. We have also been exporting surplus generated electricity to the national grid since 2014.
Musim Mas is the first major group in the palm oil industry to commit to extending methane capture projects to all its mills. The total Group emissions savings attributable to methane capture amounts to approximately 485,000 tons annually. This is roughly the amount of carbon emitted by 103,000 cars in a year.
Musim Mas operates a strict zero burning policy for all new development and replanting. We have also taken measures to ensure that we can quickly and effectively respond to any fire outbreak within the landscapes where we operate.
We maintain teams of highly trained firefighters at each of our plantations. These teams assist the district and provincial governments in regions where we operate to fight any outbreaks that could otherwise result in more widespread burning, further damage, air pollution and haze. All operations are provided with firefighting equipment, and all factories have early warning and firefighting systems. We cooperate with the local governmental fire safety centers to carry out fire drills and conduct regular training for our workers to maintain high fire safety standards.
We monitor fire incidences and affected areas outside of our areas of operation. Fire data is collated from various sources, including active fire data from various satellites (NOAA, VIIRS, MODIS) and the World Resources Institute’s (WRI) Global Forest Watch Fires (GFW Fires) platform. Our control crews undertake daily fire monitoring extending three kilometers beyond our concession boundaries.
Fire Free Alliance
In March 2016, Musim Mas joined a group of leading forestry and agriculture companies, NGOs and other partners as founders of the Fire Free Alliance (FFA). FFA activities support the Indonesian Government’s commitment to a haze-free ASEAN region by 2020.
All FFA members are committed to sharing knowledge, data and, where possible, resources to roll out fire prevention initiatives based on APRIL Group’s Fire Free Village Programme (FFVP). All company members have implemented the FFVP as a means to engage local communities in protecting forests from fire. Read more about FFA here.
Community Fire Free program
Under our FFVP, known as Masyarakat Bebas Api (MBA), we have signed a Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with more than 70 villages.
MBA focuses on educating local communities about the risk of using fire for land preparation, teaching them agronomic best practices and alternative methods of land clearance. We also engage village heads and villagers in discussions about fire prevention and provide them with firefighting and monitoring resources. These resources include fire extinguishers, portable water tanks, farm tractors, excavators and bulldozers. Early detection systems incorporating drones and CCTV are also made available. Regular letters of appeal are sent and signage has been installed to remind communities not to use fire.
Holistic Waste Management
All our mills perform holistic waste management with the aim of achieving “zero discharge”. We have processes in place to minimize waste production or harness them for use as inputs in other parts of our operations.
We optimize and reduce our use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and substitute with organic alternatives where possible. Musim Mas employs an integrated pest management (IPM) system that combines biological, cultural, physical, and chemical tools to reduce our reliance on pesticides and herbicides, and decrease the concomitant economic, health, and environmental risks. This includes, for example, encouraging the growth of barn owl population to manage common pests such as rats in our estates.
We apply fertilizers following agronomic recommendations based on soil and leaf analyses. This approach minimizes waste and ineffective fertilizer application. We also apply boiler ash from our mills in peatland areas to maintain pH levels and use dried decanter solid in place of potassium on sandy soil to increase moisture retention. This helps to improve the physical and chemical properties of marginal soils.
Musim Mas is guided by international standards and best practices on the exclusion of chemicals that are considered to be hazardous for workers and harmful for the environment. Since 2011, we have banned the use of paraquat in all our plantations, including those operated by affiliated smallholders. Under the POIG Charter and its indicator requirements, grower members are also committed to not using any chemicals identified by the World Health Organization as Class 1A or 1B, or those listed on the Stockholm or Rotterdam Conventions, the FSC’s ‘Highly Hazardous’ list, or the prohibited pesticide list published by the Rainforest Alliance’s Sustainable Agriculture Network.
Ensuring Adequate Protection for our Workers
Musim Mas has established two policies for labor force that detail the requirements and procedures related to the utilization of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during pesticide application. These policies prohibit women from engaging in pesticide application during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. All workers handling chemicals are provided with regular training organized by estate management teams on appropriate application and health and safety procedures. We also provide free regular medical check-ups for workers handling chemicals.
Monitoring Toxicity Levels
We monitor toxicity levels of the pesticides we use as part of our efforts to ensure that the minimum dosages applied meet the health and safety requirements for workers while still producing effective agricultural results. Usage of pesticides applied in each of our operations is tracked on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis.
The toxicity levels of the pesticides in use have remained relatively stable between 2015 and 2018. The range of toxicity units per hectare is also aligned with best practice within the palm oil industry.
Phasing Out Pesticides
In November 2018, Musim Mas carried out an independent review to assess the effectiveness of pesticides used at one of our plantations in Riau. The review evaluated our pesticide management approaches against the POIG requirements and included proposals for alternatives with timebound plans for phase-out where necessary. Musim Mas received approval from the POIG Organising Committee exempting the limited use of the few remaining POIG prohibited pesticides during a phase out period while our R&D department works diligently to phase out use and reliance on these chemicals and move to alternatives. By December 2018, Musim Mas successfully halted use of two pesticides, and plans to phase out the rest by December 2021.
Unsustainable agricultural activities can cause long-term deterioration of soil health and soil structure. It is vital to follow good agricultural practices in order to sustain our productivity and safeguard the environment.
We promote topsoil fertility by maintaining organic matter at an appropriate level for specific soil types. To do this, we reuse cleared vegetation, including cut fronds from harvesting or pruning to return nutrients to the soil. Waste biomass from our mills, including boiler ash and dried decanter solids, are applied to enhance soil quality. We also protect soil health by planting legume cover crops following the clearance of old palms.
The growth of moss, soft grasses and ferns is encouraged under older palms. This type of ground cover limits the growth of weeds and helps to minimize the depletion of soil organic matter from exposure to sunlight and erosion. In hilly regions, where the angle of slopes falls within the limits defined by legal or voluntary codes, we plant oil palms in terraces in order to trap rainwater, reduce surface runoff and minimize soil erosion.
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), agriculture irrigation accounts for 70% of water use worldwide5 . Within this context, agricultural systems are extremely dependent on the availability of water. A failure to recognize this vulnerability can lead to a mismanagement in water use with severe consequences.
In order to safeguard water, we strive to minimize the impact of our operations on water resources in and around our concessions. We have developed and implemented a comprehensive water management plan to maintain the quality and availability of surface and ground water for the future security of our business and the benefit of surrounding communities.
Water Use and Consumption
We have monitored our water usage patterns and consumption using the Water Footprint Network methodology since 2016. This methodology divides water consumption into three categories: “Blue water” for consumption of water from fresh surface or groundwater (water withdrawn from rivers, lakes and municipal water sources); “green water” for rainwater consumption; and “grey water” for water used to dilute pollutants.
A water balance analysis was conducted annually to compare the amount of water received by our plantations in the form of rain and river inflow against our consumption level. The results showed a net positive water balance.
Nevertheless, we continue to optimize our water use and consumption where possible. Green water consumption is dependent on the local climate at the growing area. Our water reduction programs therefore primarily target blue and grey water consumption.
We conserve blue water through programs aimed at reducing actual water use in mills, plantations and housing. For example, we recycle the water produced in our palm oil vacuum dryers to clean our sludge separators. We also collect the water used to wash the protective wear utilized by our pesticide applicators and recycle it for pesticide mixing.
To reduce grey water, we have implemented IPM to minimize our use of pesticides and rescheduled our fertilizer application to coincide with the dry season to reduce fertilizer runoff.
Safeguarding Water Quality
Although the POME from our mills is treated beyond the required regulatory levels, we do not discharge it into the waterways. Instead, we apply the by-product as fertilizer in our plantations and ensure that Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) levels remain below 100 parts per million. This mitigates any impact on groundwater and nearby water sources.
We have reviewed the water monitoring points in our operations and included additional points to better reflect inlet and outlet positioning. Musim Mas is also in the process of establishing guidelines and SOPs to deal with cases of elevated phosphorous and nitrogen levels in watercourses.
Riparian Zone Management
Riparian zones provide a buffer between natural waterways and land used for agricultural development. As such, they help to prevent soil erosion and minimize surface runoff. Buffer zones also maintain and enhance biodiversity.
Following legal requirements relating to land development for oil palm cultivation, we maintain 50-metre riparian buffer zones for small rivers, and 100-metre buffers for wide rivers. In addition to these legal requirements and other voluntary codes, we have strengthened our monitoring process by regularly evaluating water quality. We also conduct biodiversity surveys on the incidence of birds, butterflies, reptiles and small mammals in riparian zones.