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Digital annual report 2016
Sustainability Report - Planet
Like many corporations all over the world, Kulim is taking proactive action to address climate change issues in its investments and business planning. As part of our commitment to continuous improvement, we have action plans and targets for a range of sustainable development metrics. By focusing on resource management, waste management as well as pollution and emission monitoring, we minimise the environmental impact from our daily operations.
CONSERVING BIODIVERSITY

Kulim is well aware of the essential role it plays in protecting biodiversity and maintaining natural habitats. Our plantations in Johor borders the Endau-Rompin National Park and the Labis Forest Reserve. The last survey to assess the state of flora and fauna bordering our estates was undertaken in 2008 and, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (“IUCN”), the biodiversity of wildlife on its Red List of Threatened Species has become even more precarious. We continue to work closely with the government and Non-Governmental Organisation (“NGO”) to strengthen our internal monitoring and control mechanisms to prevent poaching.
High Conservation Value (“HCV”) Tools
The RSPO is committed to HCV within the context of sustainably managed landscape through the RSPO Principles and Criteria. There are various HCV definitions, including endemic, rare, threatened or endangered species. Kulim’s man-made reservoir has become a haven for a variety of wildlife. The Wildlife Conservation Society has also recorded two (2) species of migratory birds that come under the HCV category.
SAVING OUR NATURAL HERITAGE
Kulim is committed to protect the national biodiversity and endangered species. From time to time, incidences of human-elephant conflict have been reported at the Sindora, Sungai Tawing, Siang, Basir Ismail and REM Estates. In 2016, only 15 incidences of elephant encroachment were reported at the Sindora and Siang Estates. A more serious growing problem is that of elephants encroaching into residential areas resulting from increasing habitat loss.
Enhancing Biodiversity Areas

As at 31 December 2016, Kulim has set aside 52.46 hectares of land for buffer zones. Another 32.67 hectares of jungle patches within our estates will be preserved as full-fledged HCV forests. Six (6) years ago, Kulim launched the Natural Corridor Initiative that links natural habitats separated by human modified landscapes. These corridors are critical for the maintenance of ecological processes including allowing for the movement of animals and the continuation of viable populations. To create these natural corridors we have an annual tree planting event - Infaq 1 Warisan, which brings together employees as well as members of the public to play their part in enhancing biodiversity in our estates.
Mitigating Impacts
Kulim acknowledges that the establishment of monoculture oil palm plantations has a number of environmental impacts. Among the most serious are large-scale forest conversion, loss of critical habitat for endangered species, soil, air and water pollution and possible social impacts if the livelihoods of local communities are ignored. The Group has therefore initiated several measures to mitigate the negative impacts of its operations:
  • All our estates are required to provide regular updates on the species found in and around the estates and track incidents of wildlife encroachment, particularly elephants 
  • Buffer zones have been established at major water bodies in or around the estates and adjacent to forest reserves. Regular Rapid Biodiversity Monitoring on the identified hotspot area within the vicinity of our operating units and any land encroachment within our conservation areas (hotspots) are closely monitored.
  • To minimise soil erosion, our roads have been realigned and silt traps constructed for rains. In addition, keeping soft grasses and planting of mucuna and natural cover crops for young palm are also initiated. We also encourage the planting of vertivar and guatemala in areas where erosion is severe to minimise the impact.
  • Hunting, fishing and taking of fauna within our estates and adjacent protected areas are prohibited.
The Group’s Environmental and Biodiversity Unit serves as a point of reference for all matters concerning environmental issues, notably in the areas of biodiversity protection and pollution control. It collates and analyses environment and wildlife data, publishing its findings and outcome in environment and biodiversity bulletins.

Beyond Our Estate’s Boundaries
Our work in biodiversity conservation sometimes extends beyond our estate’s boundaries. Incidents of humans coming into contact with wildlife happened occasionally, as when wild elephants encroached into the Sungai Tawing and more recently, the Sindora Estate. The incursion into the Sindora Estate damaged 26 palms at a cost of approximately RM760 while for Siang Estate damaged 592 palms at a cost of approximately RM177,600. We work closely with the Wildlife Conservation Society (“WCS”) and the Johor Department of Wildlife to mitigate the possibilities of human-wildlife conflicts. In our effort to find a solution to the problem, we also participated in dialogues and meetings with the State Government and outgrowers.
RAJA ZARITH SOFIAH WILDLIFE DEFENDERS CHALLENGE
Under the patronage of HRH Raja Zarith Sofiah, the programme of Raja Zarith Sofiah Wildlife Defenders Challenge was launched in August 2013 to increase awareness of wildlife conservation among students. The three-stage competition is open to all educational institutions in Johor. A long-term objective of the biennial programme is to instill a life-long spirit of volunteerism among students, carried well beyond their formative years into adulthood.

WATER CONSERVATION

Our updated materiality matrix has identified water usage by the Group’s estates and mills and risk of chemical contamination as some of the primary concerns raised by our stakeholders.

The water consumption increased to 1.18 m3 per tonne FFB from the previously recorded 0.98 m3 per tonne FFB. This is due to the extended running hours of boilers by mills during the low crop period to reduce the running hours of genset and save on its diesel usage. We have also refrained from using piped water for cleaning floors but instead, whenever possible, to minimise water consumption at our estates. Water is mainly used to maintain our nurseries or for domestic consumption. To ensure that the processed water that is supplied to our workforce is safe for consumption, water quality is closely monitored to ensure it meets the parameters set out by the National Water Services Commission (“SPAN”)
Eroded Soil Particles
Soil erosion can be a major contaminant of our waterways and as a standard operating practice, fast-growing leguminous cover crops are planted in erosion-prone areas. Extensive use of chemical fertilizers will also pollute rivers and underground water sources. To reduce pollution from heavy metals and wherever feasible, the Group has combined the use of both inorganic and organic fertilizers derived from Empty Fruit Bunches (“EFB”), a waste product of the milling process. The utilization of effluents for land application raises the concern of the Biological Oxygen Demand (“BOD”) levels. BOD is the amount of dissolved oxygen needed by aerobic biological organisms in the oxidation of organic matter. The average BOD from our mill effluents has increased significantly by 428% compared to 2015. This is due to the inactive microbes in the newly constructed Biogas reactor in Pasir Panjang Mill during the commissioning stage, giving higher BOD of effluent coming out from the Biogas reactor. During the process, the final discharges is high but it is still below the limit as approved by Department of Environment (“DOE”).

The Group also has a growing Agrofoods business and as at December 2016, we had a total cattle population of 7,565 heads of cattle. We are closely monitoring the problems associated with cattle rearing, which include soil compaction, over-grazing and soil erosion. The challenge is to ensure that our business targets are in line with good agricultural practices.


Reducing Chemical Usage
Waterways are contaminated by the use of chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides. Kulim has long endeavored to find an alternative to pesticides and in 2008, we introduced cattle rearing as part of our effort to reduce chemical usage in our operations as natural weeding programme. In lieu of using pesticides, we have also adopted Integrated Pest Management (“IPM”) techniques to control pests, diseases, and weeds and introduced invasive species. IPM techniques include the use of barn owls, which were introduced to our estates to control the rodent population.
Minimising Solid Waste
The Group has put in place standard operating procedures for the disposal of solid waste. EFB is used as biocompost, while more than half of the palm fibres and shells are used as biomass at our mills. The remaining of the palm fibres is used as biocompost while the shells are sold. A small amount of boiler ash is produced when the biocompost is burned, and this can be recycled into the soil to reduce acidity levels. An authorised agent transports the small amounts of hazardous scheduled waste that is produced for safe disposal at designated facilities.
ADDRESING CLIMATE CHANGE

At the Paris Summit in December 2015, 196 countries met to sign a new climate change agreement. A strong climate agreement is needed to protect the planet’s ecosystems and biodiversity. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, key greenhouse gases (“GHG”) in the atmosphere has reached unprecedented levels; heat waves will occur more frequently for extended periods; the oceans will continue to warm and acidify and sea levels are predicted to continue to rise; and climate change will amplify existing risks and create new ones for natural and human systems.

Biogas Plants
The Group is establishing biogas facilities to make use of methane capture technologies to convert Palm Oil Mill Effluents (“POME”) to electricity. Two (2) plants have already been commissioned at Sedenak and Pasir Panjang Palm Oil Mill, while another which is under construction at the Sindora Palm Oil Mill, is expected to be completed by June 2017 with commissioning slated for September 2017. Meanwhile, the proposed installation of biogas plant at Tereh Palm Oil Mill - which was intended to facilitate exporting of electricity to Tenaga Nasional Berhad’s (“TNB”) grid - was postponed until the Feed-in-Tariff (“FIT”) quota becomes available.
Carbon Emission Baseline
In November 2013, Kulim had the distinction of being the first Malaysian plantation company to publish a Carbon Footprint Report using the GHG Beta Version 1a Guidelines. These guidelines were developed with funding from RSPO in order for palm oil producers to estimate the net GHG emissions produced during palm oil production. In November 2015, Kulim produced its Second Biennial Carbon Footprint Report using the PalmGHG Calculator Beta Version 2.1.1.
Palm Kernel Shells
In 2016, a total of 83,821 tonnes of palm kernel shells were produced, of which 80% was used internally for power generation, while the remainder were sold for third party consumption. We were able to incorporate a carbon credit of 33,000 tonnes CO2e because of ongoing tracking and monitoring of sold palm kernel shells.
Fertilizer Reduction
GHG emissions from the production, transportation and use of chemical fertilizers are among concerns that Kulim will have to address in its efforts to reduce the impact of its operations on the environment. Excessive use of chemical fertilizers can pollute river and underground water resources. In order to mitigate this without affecting FFB yields, Kulim has embarked on a long-term organic fertilizer programme, with field data collection underway to optimise the use of both types of fertilizers. In addition, all our mills have established composting projects to recycle the nutrients from EFB and POME back to the fields.
Outgrower Engagement
In preparation for our 2012 Carbon Footprint Report, we began a long-term engagement process with all of our independent outgrowers, who we found to account for more than 30% of our total footprint. This work has continued through 2015 and 2016 and is now evolving into a fullscale programme to assist these outgrowers in achieving RSPO certification. So far, two (2) outgrower groups have achieved certification and we continue to work with other outgrowers. We believe that good agricultural practices, including the efficient use of fertilizers will help to reduce emissions from third-party FFB.
International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (“ISCC”)
ISCC is a multi-stakeholder initiative oriented towards the reduction of GHG emissions, sustainable use of land, the protection of natural biospheres and social sustainability. During the year under review, our Sindora, Tereh and Sedenak Palm Oil Mills were audited and successfully recertified to the ISCC standard. For 2016, our target is to achieve ISCC for Pasir Panjang Palm Oil Mill followed by Palong Cocoa Palm Oil Mill. However Pasir Panjang Palm Oil Mill received the ISCC Certification on 19 March 2017.
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