Kuala Lumpur, 8 July 2021: The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) today launched the RSPO Hotspot Hub, an online platform that utilises advanced satellite technology to provide near real-time information on detected hotspots and potential fires in oil palm plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia. By increasing transparency and accountability, the Hotspot Hub strengthens fire prevention efforts, thereby reducing the risk of transboundary haze events.
While we have made significant progress, forest fires continue to be one of the toughest challenges facing the palm oil industry. They are predominantly caused by illegal slash-and-burn practices, incentivised by quick financial profits.
“As a result of COVID-19, more farmers may resort to dangerous land clearance methods to make up for financial shortfalls. This increases the risk of forest fires that rage out of control and create toxic haze that will further strain our health systems, harm our environment and threaten the progress we have made towards a haze-free region,” said Tiur Rumondang, Assurance Director at RSPO. “The Hotspot Hub enables faster detection of potential fires which means that local stakeholders have the opportunity to respond, long before they become destructive and hard to contain.”
The Hotspot Hub is powered by advanced sensor and satellite technology which displays hotspots as indications of heat sources on the ground. Upon discovery of a hotspot in, or near, an RSPO-certified concession, the RSPO GIS Team, under the Integrity Unit, contacts the member for verification and reporting. Information about the date, cause and persistence of a fire that took place, as well as the size of the affected area, is captured in the Hotspot Hub. It also documents actions taken by RSPO members to respond to the incident.
Sustainable Certification Works
RSPO’s Principles and Criteria 2018 Certification outlines a set of stringent standards for sustainable palm oil production. All RSPO members must comply with its rules, including a complete ban on use of fire. RSPO analysis reveals that only 0.4 percent of total hotspots detected during the peak of the Southeast Asia haze season in 2019 were within RSPO concessions. Moreover, no RSPO Independent Smallholders had an instance of persistent fire on their properties.
“We are encouraged by our members’ responsiveness to hotspot notifications and commend the proactive steps they have taken to address detected hotspots within or near their concession boundaries,” said Rumondang. “Their continued efforts and our analysis of recorded hotspot data demonstrate that certification works.”
To start, the Hotspot Hub will display recorded hotspot data in Malaysia and Indonesia from December 2020, with coverage expanding to Africa and Latin America in due course.
To view the RSPO Hotspot Hub, please visit: rspo.org/hotspot-hub
To learn more about RSPO’s Principles and Criteria 2018 Certification, please visit: https://rspo.org/resources/certification/rspo-principles-criteria-certification
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was formed in 2004 with the objective of promoting the growth and use of sustainable oil palm products through credible global standards and engagement of stakeholders. RSPO is a not-for-profit, international, membership organisation that unites stakeholders from the different sectors of the palm oil industry including oil palm producers, palm oil processors or traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks and investors, environmental or nature conservation NGOs, and social or developmental NGOs.
This multi-stakeholder representation is mirrored in the governance structure of RSPO such that seats in the Board of Governors, Steering Committees and Working Groups are fairly allocated to each sector. In this way, RSPO lives out the philosophy of the "roundtable" by giving equal rights to each stakeholder group, facilitating traditionally adversarial stakeholders in working together to reach decisions by consensus, and achieving RSPO’s shared vision of making sustainable palm oil the norm.
The seat of the association is in Zurich, Switzerland, while the secretariat is currently based in Kuala Lumpur with satellite offices in Jakarta (ID), London (UK), Zoetermeer (NL), Beijing (CN) and Bogotá (CO).
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