Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) says it is disappointed by the High Risk in the Rainforest report from Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) in partnership with Friends of the Earth Netherland and Friends of the Earth United States, saying the report includes inaccurate information and previously disputed or rebutted claims to the detriment of GVL’s reputation.
In a release issued over the weekend, GLV Management said while the 65 year Concession Agreement signed by GVL and the Government of Liberia in 2010 does allow for a gross total of 350,000 hectares due to GVL’s commitment to forest protection and community engagement it is anticipated that planted area will be smaller. To date, it says only 17, 200 hectares have been planted.
Further to the Concession Agreement, GVL said it has undertaken Free, Prior and In-formed Consent (FPIC) processes with communities in the area it has sought to open up for palm oil development. Development only proceeds with the agreement of communities identified and confirmed through a memorandum of understanding. These MOUs ensure community rights are protected and identify sacred sites and other areas of value such as forest areas set aside for conservation.
The management said GVL has and will continue to work closely with community members and leadership to resolve conflicts, especially in relation to land disputes, and to deliver job opportunities, infrastructure, and livelihood benefits to communities in the south eastern region through the sustainable development of palm oil.
“The SDI report also erroneously claims that GVL is avoiding taxes. GVL pays land lease taxes to the Government of Liberia and the community as per the land lease law,” the company said.
The company further stated that having previously investigated and disproven earlier allegations of land clearing based on information provided by the report author, it claimed that the final report published 2 July includes additional allegations and details that GVL will review and investigate thoroughly in line with its grievance procedure.
GVL said it welcomes constructive criticism and takes seriously allegations of inappropriate behavior of breaches of its policies or the Concession Agreement. It added that it is determined to work constructively and collaboratively with all stake holders to achieve a sustainable palm oil industry in Liberia.-Press statement