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Olam to pause land clearing in Gabon in truce with Mighty Earth
OLAM International is suspending further forest clearing in Gabon for at least a year, as it reaches a truce with environmental group Mighty Earth which had earlier criticised the agri-commodity group for its supposed deforestation practices in the country.
In return, Mighty Earth has agreed to suspend its current campaigning targeting Olam's oil palm and rubber operations for the same period.
Both parties had met in Washington DC following Mighty Earth's scathing report on Olam in December last year, in a discussion moderated by the World Resources Institute.
They agreed to move forward on two principles.
The first is to practise responsible agricultural development while addressing poverty reduction and job creation in Gabon and similar countries with high forest cover. The second is the need for palm oil traders to collectively strengthen incentives for suppliers in South-east Asia so that they avoid deforestation and exploitation of workers or communities.
Olam CEO Sunny Verghese said that the firm remains committed to best practices in forest conservation, sustainable agricultural development, poverty reduction and job creation. "We hope these actions can help sovereign countries like Gabon set their own pathways to sustainable development," he added.
Mighty Earth chairman Henry Waxman welcomed the opportunity for the group to help Gabon develop in a responsible way and provide a model for conservation in high forest cover countries.