SUSTAINABILITY

Goldtree approaches communities, family farmers and our people with a sense of accountability and applies that responsibility to everyday practices.

Prior to operations starting, an environmental and social impact assessment was carried out. An Goldtree Environmental and Social Management Plan was developed through this study, which includes a community development action plan. These plans guide management on developmental, environmental and social aspects of Goldtree’s operations.

Governance and transparency

Goldtree recognises its responsibilities to workers, communities and farming families and believes that to transform agriculture in Sierra Leone, management must be accountable and transparent. Goldtree has the potential to have a profound effect on the wellbeing and wealth of the rural families in our part of Sierra Leone.

To achieve this, Goldtree has pledged to:

i. Creating self-sufficiency in rural agriculture
When Africa is freed from its dependence on imported food, the benefits to every individual will be immense.

ii. Leading the way in environmental management
The focus of our work with the thousands of farming families gives us an important responsibility – and opportunity – to showcase responsible environmental management across our and our family farmers’ work.

iii. Zero deforestation. Goldtree will guard all primary rainforest or any land that has a high conservation value and will advise our family farmers how to achieve the same.

iv. Goldtree will not farm nor support communities to expand to greenfield lands. Rather, we support using improved organic practices and seedlings to increase productivity of existing agroforestry.

v. Goldtree will support areas for wildlife reserves integrated into the design of our work, discouraging bush meat hunting by guiding communities towards sustainable farm animal husbandry for protein sources.

vi. Water quality is protected and recognised as integral to the health of the wider environment.

Supporting the communities and our people

Goldtree recognises the value of indigenous people as the most valuable asset, and aims to benefit local communities by providing employment and advancement opportunities.

As part of its ongoing guarantee to strengthen environmental and social standards and enhance community facilities and in conjunction with independent specialists, Goldtree has developed an environmental and social action plan (ESAP). It is in the process of implementing this plan.

Environmental and social policy

Goldtree is dedicated to meeting the needs of its family farmer partners, communities, employees, customers and suppliers in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner. The Company commits to ensuring continuous improvement of all its environmental and social performance in its operational activities.

Goldtree management believes that, while it can achieve much within its own business, sustainable development is best pursued through partnership. Therefore, Goldtree will work towards the improvement of knowledge, dissemination of best practice and a common programme of action where appropriate.

Goldtree will work in partnership with local groups and communities to understand our social and environmental impact and imperatives.

Goldtree is single-mindedly focused on the preservation of its environmental surroundings through:

assessing all environmental impacts associated with its business activities by undertaking detailed studies, in accordance with international best practice;
developing processes and practices which reduce environmental risks and impacts to an acceptable level; and
developing systems for environmental management as part of its day-to-day operational practice and implementing ongoing management controls and reporting procedures to all stakeholders.

Goldtree undertakes to maintaining its social licence to operate through:

assessing all social impacts by undertaking detailed studies by country experts on its surrounding community and employees;
ensuring the purity and safety of its products and operations in order to operate in a sustainable manner;
– expecting its customers, partners and suppliers within the supply chain to adopt the same level of environmental and social practice; and
ensuring employees, contractors and suppliers are aware of the Company’s environmental and social policy and are motivated and empowered to apply it through the necessary education, training and support.

Goldtree will adhere to the criteria set by country legislation as well as good international industry practice, as reflected in various internationally recognised sources, including the World Bank Group Environmental, Health and Safety Guidelines and the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

The Company is aligned to the principles and criteria of the RSPO aiming to become a member and acquire ISO 14001 certification in the near future.

Goldtree will work with industry bodies, government agencies and other relevant organisations to promote environmental and social care, increase knowledge and disseminate best practice.

The Company has pledged the information and advice necessary for the safe production, use and disposal of its products.

Goldtree will monitor and review the performance of the Company’s environmental and social policy and management plans on an annual basis with its shareholders.

Employment

Goldtree provides a commercial outlet for the oil palm fruit production of 10,000 smallholder farmers located in its catchment area. In addition, the Company provides permanent employment and full-time equivalents to more than 1,000 people on an annual basis, as well as entrepreneurial opportunities for transport and construction.

Goldtree’s first gender committee meeting was held in mid-2019; and was established to focus on women’s issues in the workplace and within the supply chain, and to assess ways in which these challanges can be addressed.

Training and skills development

For more than 20 years, there has been no formal employment in the Kailahun District, leaving a significant skills gap. On-the-job training has been implemented by experienced trainers. This structured programme will be improved and developed to cater for future growth in operations and changing technologies. The smooth transition from the construction and rehabilitation phase of Goldtree’s evolution to the operational phase is testament to the success of the training programme.

Family farmers have also benefited from the AAF TAF Outgrower Support Programme, a two-year project that has trained over 450 people in communities on best practices in farm maintenance, pruning and harvesting.

Infrastructure

The roads that service the communities’ oil palm farming areas are crucial for the prompt transfer of fresh fruit bunches from farms to the Goldtree mill. To this end, the Company has implemented a programme to upgrade and maintain these roads, as well as install and repair bridges and culverts.

Ebola

In May 2014, the presence of the Ebola virus disease was confirmed in Sierra Leone. Despite the tragic loss of many lives in the country and the disruption to normal life, Goldtree, followed advice from the Ministry of Health & Sanitation and Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) and continued to operate throughout the crisis. Strict internal protocols were implemented to mitigate the risk for people and the Company followed government regulations to prevent the spread of the disease.

Goldtree made donations of palm oil to the World Food Programme and AAF’s fund manager, Phatisa followed with a generous cash donation to Doctors without Borders, Sierra Leone.