The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is currently investigating claims of massive land grabs, destruction of drinking water sources, shrines and gravesites in Butaw District, Sinoe County by Golden Veroleum Liberia.
The RSPO, is a non-profit consortium of stakeholders from the palm oil industry-was set up with an aim to develop and implement global standards for producing palm oil sustainably in the world.
The RSPO investigation is being carryout by a team of four from The Forest Trust (TFT), a United Kingdom registered charity focus on making the trade of timber from sustainable forest management standard practice.
The investigation is prompted by a complaint from local communities in the district that GVL is in clear violation of the RSPO's new planting procedure as it has not advertised its plans to clear and plant oil palms and carryout publicize a high conservation value assessment in advance of expanding its operations.
The TFT investigative team, according to information posted online spent the whole of last week in Sinoe County gathering information from local residents and the company's management. The group objective is to understand the situation raised by local communities and help find solution to problems in Butaw District.
Butaw District citizens also complained that the massive clearing of farmlands and forest reserved in the district is creating hardship among residents as they are being left with no land to farm. Almost the entire residents of Butaw are farmers. They also alleged that the company bulldozed their cash crops, cleared their burial sites, desecrated shrines and evicted some towns.
The citizens also informed the RSPO that GVL didn't get their free, prior consent before developing oil palm on their land. Golden Veroleum has a concession to grow oil palm on 220, 000 hectares of land in five counties including Grand Gedeh, Sinoe, RiverGee, Rivercess and Maryland.
Golden Veroleum was recently instructed by the RSPO to halt further clearing of land in the district pending the outcome of its investigation but reports from the county have established that the company is still clearing lands in violation to the RSPO mandate.