Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) 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 that includes inaccurate information and previously disputed or rebutted claims to the detriment of GVL’s reputation.
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 17,020 hectares have been planted. Further to the Concession Agreement, GVL has undertaken Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) processes with communities in the areas 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.
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 land taxes. GVL pays all land lease taxes to the Government of Liberia and the community as per the land lease law and all other taxes as required by law.
Having previously investigated and disproven earlier allegations of land clearing based on information provided by the report author, the final report published 2 July includes additional allegations and details that GVL will review and investigate thoroughly in line with its grievance procedure.
The company welcomes constructive criticism and takes seriously allegations of inappropriate behaviour, or breaches of its policies or the Concession Agreement. It is determined to work constructively and collaboratively with all stakeholders to achieve a sustainable palm oil industry in Liberia.