Despite comprising less than 0.5% of the world's landmass, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands are home to more than 5% of its biodiversity – much of it endemic to the region.
New oil palm plantations are the leading cause of forest conversion and carbon emissions, so we are committed to achieving an optimal balance between social development, conservation and agriculture.
Since 2013, we have upheld our strict no-deforestation commitments. NBPOL continues to be a strong advocate of minimising harmful environmental impacts, maintaining forest preservation, and protecting ecosystems.
Before any new development, NBPOL conducts rigorous assessments and follows the processes outlined in the RSPO procedures. This approach includes understanding the conservation value and carbon stock impacts of planned developments and surrounding community social impact assessments.
We prepare estimates for an implementation plan. This includes mapping high conservation value and high carbon stock areas in the vicinity of existing estates to delimit areas for potential conversion and protection. Our continued field presence also determines local community land-use agreements. We then demarcate the required areas for living space and food security. The entire engagement procedure is a dynamic process of integrated land-use planning.
Protecting Biodiversity and Managing Conservation Areas
We have set aside and conserve over 22,000 hectares – accounting for more than 10% of operational land – that will not be subject to any development. These areas have been identified as high conservation value land or high carbon stock that requires management and monitoring. NBPOL has implemented a strict no-hunting policy; we enforce this policy with all the smallholders we work with.
We also document IUCN Red List and CITES species found within our leases. Dedicated teams protect and conserve conservation areas to restore and rehabilitate any identified areas of degradation. Continual surveillance is by satellite monitoring, drones, spot checks, and patrolling by teams on the ground.
We operate multiple conservation and restoration programmes across our sites. These are facilitated by our employees, technical experts and local community partnerships. Activities include conserving endangered and threatened species, increasing forest planted areas, and rehabilitating shorelines with mangroves to support marine habitats and prevent land erosion.
Protecting the Queen Alexandra's Birdwing Butterfly We are privileged that a flagship species, Queen Alexandra's birdwing butterfly (QABB) (Ornithoptera alexandrae), is found near our Higaturu operations. With a 19–30cm wingspan, the QABB is the largest globally and one of the rarest. Endemic to Papua New Guinea's northern province (also known as Oro province), it can only be found in two locations: the forest areas of the Managalas Plateau, 1,000 metres above sea level, and the coastal lowlands of the Popondetta Plains.
Due to continued poaching, the QABB has now become an endangered species. NBPOL is dedicated to its conservation through a series of programmes, including working with local communities to help locate and nurture the insect.
We have also constructed a dedicated, fully-equipped facility at Higaturu to breed the QABB in captivity. Our goal is to ensure its continued survival by eventually releasing them into previously inhabited areas enriched with additional food plants.
Fire Monitoring and Management
Since 1969, NBPOL has been practising zero burning across our palm operations. Our sugarcane harvesting process is also fully mechanised, so we do not practice conventional burning techniques.
Our estates and areas within a 5-km radius are continually monitored to ensure we remain alert to any potential fire outbreaks. This is achieved through Sime Darby Plantation's remote sensing platform powered by NASA satellite data around-the-clock monitoring. All hotspots and fires are investigated and recorded. Firefighting drills are also routinely conducted across our estates so employees can be responsive to any fire risks.
All cases are reported on Sime Darby Plantation's Hotspot Alert Dashboard. Hotspot data is also available via the RSPO's publicly available platform, GeoRSPO.
Many fires occur because of the local communities’ custom of using fire for hunting and clearing gardens. We are cognisant that these are typically mainly human-made issues and part of traditions over which we have limited to no control. However, we continue to work closely with landowners in an attempt to mitigate any contributing factors.
Reducing Carbon Footprint
We are committed to the ongoing reduction of our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and carbon footprint at our palm oil operations. To monitor our progress, we subscribe to the RSPO Palm GHG calculator. Our most significant source of emissions is from the impact of previous land-use change and palm oil mill effluent (POME) from our mills. Our largest site in West New Britain is responsible for more than half of our combined net GHG emissions. These emissions are due to the plant's size and because most of the area was developed as greenfield, whereas other sites were created on grassland or previously cultivated land.
To minimise our carbon footprint, we have invested in carbon reduction facilities and set targets to reduce our GHG emission intensity. NBPOL operates biogas plants in West New Britain to facilitate emission reduction. These supply power to the local electricity grid, housing compounds, workshops, offices, and the Kumbango Oil Refinery (operated by our parent company).
We also recycle our biomass waste back into our operations, which contributes to reducing emissions. Our empty fruit bunches are applied back at the plantations as compost, effluent from our mills is treated and used as irrigation for the fields, and palm kernel shells are used as fuel for boilers at our mills.
Operating climate-positive plantations at Ramu Since 2011, our Ramu Agricultural Industries (RAI) operations have been climate positive. Compared to our other sites which were developed on forested areas, Ramu's plantations were developed on grasslands and former sugar plantations, which store very little carbon in the form of biomass. This means the carbon sequestrated by planted oil palm trees more than compensate for carbon emissions from RAI's operations (such as fertiliser, fuel, energy use and historical land clearing). Consequently, our Ramu operations create an environmental benefit by removing additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Beef and emissions We understand that beef production is an emissions-intensive industry. However, nutrition deficiency is prevalent throughout much of Papua New Guinea, mainly due to a lack of animal protein. This deficiency is a contributing factor to children's poor development and growth. Therefore, the cattle farming industry's primary objective is meeting the growing demand for beef consumption at an affordable price.
Chemical and Pest Management
We continuously strive to reduce our chemical usage according to leading certification schemes.
For our oil palm operations, this is achieved through biological controls, wherever possible, and by strict monitoring of pesticide use. Our integrated pest management strategy and methods include ground cover management, maintaining nectar-producing plants, and using high-quality planting materials to suppress pests and diseases. Our approach helps initiate early control responses, whereby we mitigate smaller weed infestations or insect pests by manual weeding or hand picking. We also train smallholder extension officers in the early detection and reporting of potential outbreaks. Our R&D team is continuously reviewing and improving our use of biological controls through a long-term R&D programme through various methods.
PNG sugarcane is an indigenous crop that is highly vulnerable to localised pests and diseases. But it is highly resistant to biological methods. Limited chemical aerial spraying to control pests continues to be necessary at our Ramusugar operations until alternatives are available. This is done to ripen the canes after rain and control economically damaging moth borers. Aerial spraying is strictly limited to our sugar operations and is not applied to our oil palm.
Water Management and Protection
The shores of West New Britain are part of the Coral Triangle and home to some of the most extraordinary marine life and reefs in the world. NBPOL operates in regions surrounded by extensive coastal reefs. Aside from conducting annual reef check programmes, we strive to ensure efficient water use at our operations and minimise impacts to waterways.
Most of our operations are in areas with high rainfall with little need for irrigation or competition for water sources. We mainly draw water from local rivers and boreholes for use at our mills, for irrigation at our palm oil nurseries, and at a limited area at our Ramu Agricultural Industries operations. Water is also distributed to supply houses and offices.
All mill by-product – palm oil mill effluent (POME) – is treated before being discharged into waterways, and we ensure biological oxygen demand (BOD) levels meet the highest standards.