In another blow to the Liberia-based palm oil company Golden Veroleum, an investigation by an independent grievance panel has found that it bulldozed rainforests and ignored community rights as it cleared land for its plantation operations. The investigation is the first of its kind by the High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA), set up in late 2016 to assess the compliance of palm oil companies with their “no deforestation” commitments. Golden Veroleum signed an agreement with the Liberian government in 2010 to develop a 220,000-hectare (543,600-acre) concession in the remote, densely forested western counties of Liberia. Since the early days of its operations it has faced a stream of criticism by environmental advocates and community representatives for ignoring customary land rights and destroying ecosystems, so far only managing to clear 18,000 hectares (44,500 acres) of its concession. While saying its findings were “indicative only,” the panel found that Golden Veroleum had cleared more than 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) of high carbon stock (HCS) forest and that it was “likely” that additional high conservation value (HCV) forests had been destroyed, including areas habituated by chimpanzees and pygmy hippopotami. (HCS and HCV are complementary approaches to the demarcation of forests inside palm oil concessions.) The HCSA findings are not the first time an international body has censured the company. In 2018, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) told it to stop clearing land in some parts of its concession until it resolved a series of complaints submitted to the RSPO about its…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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