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Rubber firm vows not to harm forests

Rubber firm vows not to harm forests

Rubber and palm oil giant the Socfin Group has committed to a global “zero-deforestation policy” across Africa and Asia amid a legal dispute with ethnic Bunong communities in Mondulkiri province’s Bousraa commune.

“The group is currently working closely with its partners to implement a ‘Zero Deforestation’ policy,” Socfin said in a statement, adding that it would mean any new plantation development would need to be offset by the preservation of other forested areas it owns.

The firm said it had also committed to not develop areas considered to be “critical habitat” for at-risk species.

Protesters in May gathered at the Bousraa office of Socfin KCD, a joint venture between Socfinasia and the Khao Chuly Group, calling on French industrialist Vincent Bollore, the firm’s biggest shareholder, to honour reported promises of further compensation.

More than 800 families were affected by the company’s roughly 7,000-hectare land concessions. Most have accepted relocation or compensation packages, but about 200 families have yet to find a resolution.

In July, a civil action against Socfin was launched in a French court.