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Helping smallholders and mills recognise high conservation values

As part of Shell’s drive to build their supply of sustainable biofuel, the company and its Thai partner, Patum Veg, are promoting RSPO certification of the palm oil smallholder supply base in Thailand.

Shell | 2014

In Krabi, Trang and Suratthani provinces of southern Thailand, thousands of smallholders supply palm oil to Shell via Patum Veg, which itself sources from nine mills owned by six companies. As part of their preparation for RSPO certification, Patum Veg is working with this complex supply chain to improve production practices among smallholder farmers.

High conservation values (HCVs) are biological, ecological, social or cultural values of outstanding significance or critical importance at local, national, regional or global levels. A key requirement of RSPO certification is that growers identify, manage and maintain HCVs affected by their palm oil production.

For smallholders, this presents a challenge. What is an HCV in Thailand? What features might they need to identify and maintain? Without understanding what HCVs are, the smallholder famers and the mills they supply, cannot be sure that they manage them correctly.

In 2014, Shell asked Proforest to help identify which HCVs are present at the provincial and national scale in Thailand, as well as the kinds of HCVs that are typically found on smallholders’ farms in the area. Proforest’s assessment consisted of a mixture of desk-based analysis, discussions with mill teams, and site visits to smallholder farms across the three provinces to see potential HCV sites and discuss them with smallholders and mill teams.

For each of the six HCVs the Proforest team identified what this might be in that provincial context. For example, HCV 1 at the provincial scale would include national parks or Ramsar sites. At the smallholder farm level, Proforest worked with mill teams to identify types of HCV that are present, such as HCV 4 in the form of rivers that provide water to communities and fish spawning areas. Other HCVs that are possible but unlikely to be present were also identified.

Using this advice and recommendations, Patum Veg has successfully implemented a system for ensuring their smallholder suppliers identify, manage and maintain HCVs. In 2015 Patum Veg was successful in their RSPO certification application, bringing 797 smallholders and five palm oil mills in four provinces in the south of Thailand into Shell’s RSPO certified supply chain. 

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