TFT is supporting Wilmar policy implementation in Nigeria and Uganda.
As of January 2019, The Forest Trust has become Earthworm Foundation.
Wilmar announced its No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation policy in December 2013, with TFT supporting policy implementation on the ground in Nigeria and Uganda since March 2014, and elsewhere in which Wilmar operates. TFT’s support involves field visits to assess the situation in any given area, identifying any gaps between current operations and Wilmar’s policy.
This allows TFT to prepare and implement action plans. Some improvements have been made and a range of other issues are currently being addressed. The quarterly update reports released on Wilmar’s corporate website and dashboard provide an overview of progress. In Nigeria, TFT visited PZ Wilmar’s operations in March 2014 to assess how it was currently working.
An action plan was drawn up to address any identified issues, with the aim of complying with Wilmar’s policy. As a result:
- A community relations department was established; and a community relations manager and a liaison officer were hired.
- Training sessions were conducted by TFT to PZ Wilmar management and staff on Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC), grievance resolution, and how to conduct High Carbon Stock (HCS) studies.
- Multiple subsequent visits were made by TFT that involved supporting PZ Wilmar’s liaison officer in meeting with communities, collecting data and information, and monitoring the progress made in implementing Wilmar’s policy. A number of issues around compensation remain. TFT is supporting PZ Wilmar in working proactively through these issues to make sure FPIC is duly respected and implemented, and will continue to report on progress.
- In Ibiae, near Ibogo village, a HCS assessment has been completed as part of a land use planning exercise. As a result, forest and High Conservation Value (HCV) areas have been set aside and will not be developed.
In Uganda, TFT went on similar visits to the operations of Oil Palm Uganda Limited (OPUL), a joint-venture in which Wilmar has a minority stake, in March 2014.
OPUL’s work practices were assessed in order to identify where it needed support to comply with Wilmar’s policy. An action plan was drawn up to address issues identified and subsequent visits made to support it to implement those actions. This included actions related to grievance mechanism and land claims. Together, TFT and Wilmar have:
- Investigated outstanding land claims issues.
- Ensured that OPUL staff have received training on how to better deal with grievances.
- Opened dialogue regarding operations in Nigeria and Uganda with various stakeholders.
- Hired a community liaison officer and a land surveyor, following recommendations about strengthening Wilmar’s capability on the ground.
- Conducted participatory mapping processes together with farmers to define boundaries of land under dispute.
- Held joint meetings with 24 farmers to hear their concerns first-hand.
Claims by local farmers in Uganda have been made to the high court around a number of outstanding land disputes. This has resulted in a decision by the court to proceed with a formal conflict mediation process. Wilmar welcomes this process – it sees formal conflict mediation as a good path to long-term resolution of this complex issue.
TFT will continue to encourage and support dialogue between Wilmar, the involved local farmers and NGOs, while ensuring it does not interfere with the court-ordered mediation process.
We recognise we are on a journey in Nigeria and Uganda – the work we are doing will not be finished overnight. However, we are confident that the commitment of PZ Wilmar and OPUL is genuine and strong. They are both making progress.
TFT welcomes constructive input to the process that can help resolve any outstanding issues.