11 December 2015, Kuala Lumpur – The Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto (SPOM) will launch the High Carbon Stock Science Study (HCS+) on 11 December 2015. As a member of the SPOM, Musim Mas views the conclusion of the study as an important step in the development of the HCS methodology. Underpinned by the principle of sustainable development, HCS+ conserves primary forests, forests that have moderate levels of logging disturbance and older secondary forests.
Going forward, Musim Mas will join the trials of the HCS+ and HCS Approach methodologies in their areas of operations to compare conservation and developmental outcomes, as well as the practicality of implementation. These trials will inform further discussions on the complementary aspects and support convergence of the two methodologies. Musim Mas will conduct these trials in its concessions in Papua province of Indonesia.
The trials are important for both methodologies to assess for its practicality as there are different landscapes with a broad range of contexts: fragmented landscapes, medium forest and high-forest covered landscapes. It is crucial for the methodologies to address the aspirations of local communities’ and include Smallholders too. Most importantly, the industry needs to align the HCS+ and HCS Approach wherever possible to strive for the adoption of one methodology that can be supported as the HCS tool by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
In the interim period during the implementation of the trials, the Group will maintain its moratorium with the objective to achieve convergence of both methodologies. Musim Mas will develop a roadmap for implementing the field trials, set a time-bound plan and communicate its progress in its progress reports.
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The HCS Science Study builds on existing scientific work on carbon stock. Systematic and robust scientific methods were used to establish assessment tools for above-ground carbon stock, while a consultative approach was employed to engage with governments and leading experts in the field of social and developmental economics to help deepen the understanding of sustainable Palm Oil . The Study was conducted over a 12-month period and took into account feedback from a wide range of stakeholders resulting from two phases of public consultation.
The methodology developed by the Study, named HCS+, emphasises equitable, transparent, conflict-free and carbon neutral oil palm development. Building on the work of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), it requires full and rigorous implementation of the RSPO’s Principles and Criteria, and the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). It also recommends a stronger social contract in order to share the value created by companies more equitably with local communities, employees and shareholders; a strict adherence to the proposed HCS thresholds, and the active and ongoing protection of all forest set-asides, be it HCS forests, areas with High Conservation Value (HCV) , or other forests set-aside and actively protected so as to achieve carbon neutral land conversion. Done well, oil palm development can create genuine economic and social benefits, minimise environmental impacts, and contribute significantly to sustainable development.