Land use violations were found in a recent analysis conducted by Greenpeace Indonesia and geospatial expert The TreeMap, where their findings show that 3.12 million hectares of oil palm plantations are located within forest areas, including protected forest areas and conservation forests.
The findings are research conducted from 2001 to 2019. These findings can be accessed in a Greenpeace report entitled “Reports on Illegal Palm Oil in Forest Areas: The Red Carpet of Oligarchy”.
Of the 3.12 million hectares, 1.56 million hectares are oil palm plantations owned by smallholders, while the rest are industrial oil palm plantations. The report states that the total area of oil palm plantations in protected forest areas reaches 148,000 hectares, while the area of oil palm plantations in conservation areas reaches around 90 thousand hectares.
“Well, the most important thing is that these protected forests and conservation areas actually have a function of protecting the ecosystem and it is really important that these areas are protected, but in fact we found that there is still palm oil activity planted in protected forests and conservation areas. ” said Greenpeace Indonesia Forest Campaigner, Arie Rompas at the launch of the report on Thursday (21/10).
Arie gave an example that 100 hectares of conservation forest area of Gunung Melintang Nature Tourism Park, Sambas, West Kalimantan had been cleared by an oil palm company located next to an oil palm plantation that had a plantation business permit. The area of the plantation that has obtained a permit owned by the company reaches seven thousand hectares.
“There is also oil palm in the Bakiriang Wildlife Sanctuary (where) hundreds of hectares of this area have been converted (by) being planted with oil palm,” said Arie.
The Regional Planning and Development Agency (Bappeda) of Central Sulawesi established the Bakiriang Wildlife Sanctuary in Banggai Regency as a protected forest area in 1996. Bakiriang is the habitat of an endemic animal from Sulawesi, namely the maleo bird (Macrocephalon maleo).
Threat to Wildlife
Greenpeace Indonesia indicated that as of 2019, oil palm plantations had captured a large number of wildlife habitats. The conversion of land to oil palm plantations has threatened 183,000 hectares of orangutan habitat in Sumatra and Kalimantan, 136,000 hectares of tiger habitat in Sumatra, and 5,989 hectares of elephant habitat in Sumatra and Kalimantan.
“These problems have also resulted in increased conflicts between humans and wild animals because previously their habitats were destroyed for oil palm plantations, which then led to conflicts,” said Arie.
Greenpeace Indonesia also found that during 2001-2019, 870,995 hectares of primary forest in the forest area had been turned into oil palm plantations and was estimated to have released around 104 million metric tons of carbon. This is equivalent to 33 times the annual carbon emissions generated for electricity consumption by all houses in Jakarta, or about 60 percent of the annual emissions of international flights.
On a different occasion, Assistant Deputy for Spatial Planning and Strategic Economic Zones at the Coordinating Ministry for the Economy, Dodi Slamet Riyadi, explained that the settlement of palm oil without permits in forest areas has been regulated in Government Regulation Number 24 of 2021.
“For example, palm oil is owned by the community and the area is less than five hectares for five continuous years, then the settlement is carried out with social forestry, through TORA (Land for Agrarian Reform Objects) or through changes to the allocation and function of forest areas,” said Dodi in a webinar held by Forest Watch Indonesia, last Wednesday (15/9).
According to Dodi, the ownership of oil palm over five hectares by corporations and the community if it is in a conservation forest or protected forest is resolved by returning the forest area to the state. The area of oil palm cover in forest areas based on data from the secretariat for the acceleration of the one map policy in 2021 reaches 3.6 million hectares.
Dodi revealed that of the 16 million hectares of national oil palm cover, only four million hectares or 25.3 percent have been equipped with usufructuary rights. This figure still leaves as many as 12.2 million hectares or 74.7 percent of the national oil palm cover that has not been equipped with cultivation rights, both oil palm plantations owned by the people and those owned by the industry. [yl/rs]