Forests form about 30% of the world’s land area. They carry out very important ecological functions in the world, one of which is to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and replace it with oxygen. Forests are, thus, huge carbon sinks.
Forests are not evenly distributed throughout the world. Besides, they also have varying amounts of biomass. The tropical forests have the highest biomass due to the ambient climatic conditions of high rainfall and long sunshine hours, which favor plant growth. As such, tropical rainforests have always fascinated scientists and writers due to the rich diversity of flora and fauna.
While the major carbon stock of forests is present above ground, peat soils have high carbon stocks below ground. There is great concern that carbon dioxide will be released into the atmosphere when forests and peatland are cleared for cultivation as this will lead to climate change.
Five major oil palm growers (Sime Darby Plantation, IOI Corporation Bhd, Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd, Asian Agri and Musim Mas Group) together with Cargill and Unilever are signatories to the Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto or SPOM in short. The manifesto calls for no deforestation in High Carbon Stock (HCS) forest areas, creating traceable and transparent supply chains, and protecting peatlands. These companies together with Wilmar International Limited and IDH (also known as Sustainable Trade Initiative) funded a study called High Carbon Stock (HCS) Science Study (www.carbonstockstudy.com) to determine what constitutes high carbon stock land.
The HCS Science Study released its draft Synthesis report for public consultation in June 2015. The public consultation ended on 31st July 2015.
MPOC found that uncertainty still prevails on the reality of the definition and delineation of land with high carbon stocks that will be barred for oil palm cultivation.