Musim Mas
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What is the Project About?

Community land use planning is vital for new development, especially in areas earmarked for palm oil production, where existing rights and livelihoods must be considered. Before we proceed with any new development, Musim Mas carries out a High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA) assessment covering the 14 Social Requirements (SRs) that we must respect.

This approach is used during the planning, review, and preparation phases, including negotiations, to address the potential impact of our operations on the affected lands and communities. HCSA assessments also play an essential part in our conservation planning and practices, including our efforts to respect local communities’ customary rights.

The HCSA was initially applied to land that is slated for new plantation development. However, it has since been expanded to include new development on existing plantation holdings. HCSA SR 13 was specifically developed to guide the application of the other Social Requirements when applying the HCSA to existing operations.

Comprising two phases, the pilot involved a Musim Mas plantation in Central Kalimantan:

  • Phase 1: A desktop study of the SR13 framework to guide a document review by an independent consultant
  • Phase 2: A field study to verify and validate the implementation of SR13 in partnership with the social NGO Forest Peoples Programme (FPP)

As of September 2022, both phases have been completed with our project partners (FPP and Helen Newing), and a report is being prepared in 2023. Musim Mas aims to submit this to the HCSA for review and feedback.

What Our Stakeholders Have to Say?

Commentary by Glen Reynolds, Director | South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP) As an RSPO-certified company, Musim Mas has identified and set aside the required HCV areas and implemented monitoring measures. Impressively, for a plantation company, they began implementing HCVlinked recommendations from SEARRP’s scientific programs (which were previously presented to the RSPO Biodiversity and High Conservation Values Working Group) before our engagement. These recommendations are specifically aimed at improving biodiversity in plantation landscapes. The logical extension of these efforts is implementing a robust monitoring and assessment program to understand whether these ‘enhanced’ HCV approaches have yielded the expected biodiversity impacts and benefits. This is why we entered into a one-year partnership with Musim Mas.

This project is a unique opportunity for SEARRP and our research scientists; we have access to Musim Mas’ comprehensive dataset comprising up to 10 years’ worth of the company’s biodiversity and monitoring programs. This data has been generated across multiple research plots from Musim Mas’ HCV areas in Sumatra and Kalimantan and measures several crucial parameters, including comprehensive information on bird diversity.

Ideally, our next step would be conducting experiments that shed further light on managing biodiversity in a production landscape. It would be fascinating to test what additional interventions can most effectively improve biodiversity. Conservation and sustainability projects need more examples of best practice. SEARRP is keen to work with Musim Mas and other plantation companies to leverage the enormous quantity of data collected for certification and find new ways to analyze and use existing and future data to directly inform management and conservation best practices. The program has the potential to influence future policies and procedures and serve as the basis of a reliable case study for all RSPO members.

About: SEARRP facilitates world-class scientific research addressing the tropics’ major environmental issues: plantation development, habitat restoration, and climate change. SEARRP is based in Sabah’s Danum Valley, works with international universities and local partners to facilitate research by individual scientists, and manages a suite of large-scale field experiments. Since Q2 2021, the SEARRP team has worked with senior Musim Mas teams in Singapore and Medan on this conservation assessment.

Commentary by Patrick Anderson,

Policy Advisor

Forest Peoples Programme (FPP)

For many rural communities in the tropics, lack of control over their land is a serious problem. Under RSPO and HCSA rules, companies must recognize and respect rural communities as landowners. To fulfill their conservation commitments under these standards, companies must find ways to incentivize communities overlapping with their concessions or supply areas. Companies can further support communities by providing job opportunities to residents and hiring community representatives to work on conservation management, social programs, etc. These incentives can encourage communities to participate in conservation.

As an RSPO member, Musim Mas must carry out due diligence to ensure their suppliers comply with No Exploitation requirements. Many smallholders and communities are unaware of the commitments of companies operating on or purchasing from their lands. Companies like Musim Mas must communicate these commitments and requirements and help their suppliers to meet them. Due diligence is an integral part of this process and should include an independent verification and access to a grievance mechanism. FPP is pleased to be able to work closely with Musim Mas on the application of the HCSA social requirements to existing operations.

About: Patrick has collaborated with Musim Mas for almost a decade through the RSPO, POIG and multi-stakeholder HCSA initiatives. At the time of this report’s publication, FPP and Musim Mas are jointly trialing HCSA Social Requirement 13 at Musim Mas’ PT Unggul Lestari concession in Kalimantan.