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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)


Olam International has palm and rubber plantations in Gabon, Africa. With low agricultural and economic development and significant forest cover, Gabon’s rich lands maintain high carbon stocks and extraordinary biodiversity reserves that contribute to the ecosystem’s balance.

Olam International new logoWhen assessing the suitability of land allocated by the Government, Olam recognised the biodiversity and wildlife needs of the area and invested substantial time and resources in completing a high-level agronomic, environmental and social due diligence prior to commencing plantation development.

Such initiative builds on the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil New Planting Procedures and Gabon’s national regulations. Olam focused on biodiversity and its complex systems when proceeding with land selection and  management. Olam worked closely with the Gabonese Government and the Ministry of National Parks, who are also strongly committed to conservation goals for their 'Green Gabon'.

This partnership enabled Olam to ensure that the production of its commodities would not impinge the biodiverse landscape. Olam identified high conservation value areas, monitored social and environmental issues within the area, carried out LIDAR surveys, an Environmental & Social Impact Assessment, a High Conservation Value Assessment and a Prior and Informed Consent of communities before developing a management plan. This enabled concessions with vulnerable and fragile landscapes to be returned to the Government and to exclude any ecologically sensitive areas from development.

A process of robust due diligence as well as making important links between the palm and rubber plantations and the local biodiversity and environment enabled Olam to both develop its production chain as well as secure biodiversity conservation; in face proposed land areas totalling 31,890 hectares have been ruled unsuitable for certified palm and they have been returned to the Government of Gabon. Olam’s work around land has reduced the allocation of agronomically unsuitable, high conservation value or high carbon stock lands.