Oil palm plantations endanger wildlife.

Kehadiran perkebunan kelapa sawit mengancam satwa liar.

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The reports published by anti-oil palm plantation NGOs, either Indonesian groups or transnational groups, often make headlines with their claims on how wildlife, especially endangered species, face the threat of extinction because of the development of oil palm plantations. Endangered species such as orangutans, Sumatran tigers, Sumatran elephants and other indigenous wildlife are often reported to be near extinction as their habitats are destroyed. In general, such NGOs’ reports attribute the establishment of oil palm plantations with the destruction of wildlife habitats. This accusation is made purposefully to gain sympathy from the global community and with to achieve the global rejection of palm oil products.

Such NGOs make tendentious claims that oil palm plantations push endangered species such as orangutans, tigers and elephants toward near extinction. Butcan their claim be substantiated?

Indonesia is unlike the Western countries that cleared all primary forests, including their wildlife, at the onset of development. From the start (see Myth 9-01 to Myth 9-06), Indonesia realized the vital importance of conserving wildlife and vegetation. The prevailing laws (such as the Forestry Law, Environment Law and Spatial Planning Law) stipulate that a minimum of 30 percent of total lands must be designated as Conservation Zones (protected forest and conserved forest) to serve as a “home” for natural biodiversity.

According to the Ministry of Forestry Statistics 2015, the total area of protected forests and conserved forests in Indonesia stands at 41.5 million ha. Conservation areas include Natural Preserves, Wildlife Sanctuaries, National Parks, Natural Recreational Parks, Grand Forest Parks, Game Hunting Parks and other facilities to house natural biodiversity. Protected/conserved forests are the natural habitat (in situ) of orangutans, tigers, elephants, bears, rhinoceroses and other indigenous wildlife. The designated locations for protected/conserved forests are not selected randomly, but are based on the natural habitat for these species.

In compliance with the law, wildlife habitats exist within protected/conservation areas, the function of which is not convertible for other purposes. Areas that may be converted are those within the cultivation Zone, which includes production forests. The expansion of residential areas and farms/plantations, including oil palm plantations, must take place within the Cultivation Zone. Wildlife and oil palm plantations, as well as residential areas and farms, are in different spaces that do not overlap. That said, why is wildlife found outside their habitats, entering residential areas as well as oil palm plantations in the Cultivation Zone?

Wildlife tends to remain within their customary territories, as per their natural behavior. Communities of wildlife will remain in their traditional habitat for generations. If they leave the habitat, it means that their “home” is no longer comfortable or is under threat. How can this be?

There are three main reasons that wildlife feels threatened and forced into entering a Cultivation Zone. The first reason is the massive illegal logging in the protected/conserved forests that encompass the wildlife habitat. From the 1970s until the present day, the protected/conserved forests have been the target destination for both legal and illegal logging. Millions of cubic meters of natural wood have been extracted every year from the home territory of wildlife. The Forestry Statistics reports that hundreds of illegal logging cases are uncovered annually. The figure is the tip of an iceberg, with estimates indicating many more cases yet to be revealed. The people who live around the forests are familiar with the massive illegal logging activities.

Second, besides illegal logging, the threat upon wildlife also comes from illegal hunting, which is increasing. Every year, the Forestry Ministry reports the arrests of hundreds of poachers. Again, the number of those who have not been caught is much higher. The discoveries of elephant carcasses with the tusks cut off or the carcasses of skinned tigers in protected forests, as well as the high number of endangered animals being smuggled out of the country from various regions indicate a dire problem.

The third reason is the fires that break out yearly in Conservation Zones. The Forestry Ministry records that 3-5 million ha of protected/conserved forests, Nature Preserves, Wildlife Sanctuaries, National Parks, and Natural Recreational Parks are burned down every year. All three factors –uncontrolled legal and illegal logging, poaching and forest fires– that threaten the lives of indigenous wildlife indicate the poor management of protected/conserved forests that is home to Indonesia’s flora and fauna.

The government’s next task is to improve the management system. It must take a firm stance in stopping any activities in Conservation Zones that house the natural habitat of wildlife. The “homes” of wildlife that have been destroyed by fire and logging must immediately be restored. Placing the blame on oil palm plantations in Cultivation Zones as a factor that threatens wildlife habitats is not only unsubstantiated, it also diverts from the real problem, which is the poor management of wildlife habitats in Conservation Zones.

Dalam laporan berbagai LSM anti sawit baik yang beroperasi di Indonesia maupun trans nasional, sering memuat berita bagaimana satwa liar khususnya satwa yang dilindungi terancam punah di Indonesia akibat pengembangan perkebunan kelapa sawit. Satwa liar seperti Orang Utan, Mawas, Harimau Sumatera, Gajah Sumatera dan lain-lain sering diberitakan terancam punah akibat rusaknya habitatnya. Laporan LSM tersebut umumnya mengkaitkan pembangunan kebun sawit sebagai penyebab terancamnya habitat satwa-satwa liar. Tuduhan yang demikian, sengaja dibuat untuk membangun simpati masyarakat dunia agar membenci sawit. Secara tendensius, para LSM anti sawit menyebut bahwa kebun sawit lah yang menyebabkan terancamnya Orang Utan, Mawas, Haiamau, Gajah dan lain-lain. Benarkah demikian?

Berbeda dengan negara-negara Barat yang pada masa pembangunannya menghabiskan semua hutan primer termasuk satwa liar penghuninya, Indonesia tidaklah demikian. Indonesia sejak awal (lihat Mitos 9-01 sampai Mitos 9-06) sudah sadar betul pentingnya kelestarian satwa-satwa liar maupun ragam tumbuhan alam. Undang-undang (misalnya Undang-Undang Kehutanan, Undang-Undang Lingkungan Hidup, Undang-Undang Penataan Ruang, dan lainnya) telah menetapkan minimal 30 persen luas daratan diperuntukkan untuk kawasan lindung (hutan lindung dan hutan konservasi) sebagai “rumahnya” satwa-satwa liar dan ragam tumbuhan alam.

Menurut Statistik Kehutanan 2015, luas hutan lindung dan konservasi di Indonesia mencapai seluas 41,5 juta hektar. Dalam hutan lindung dan konservasi tersebut termasuk cagar alam, suaka marga satwa, taman nasional, taman wisata alam, taman hutan rakyat, taman buru dan lainnya yang menjadi “rumahnya” satwa -satwa liar maupun ragam tumbuhan alam. Pada hutan lindung/konservasi itulah habitatnya (In Situ) Orang Utan, Mawas, Harimau, Gajah, Beruang, Badak, dan lain-lain. Penetapan lokasi habitat satwa-satwa liar tersebut bukan asal-asalan melainkan ditetapkan berdasarkan habitat alamiahnya.

Sesuai dengan Undang-undang, habitat satwa-satwa liar tersebut berada dan merupakan kawasan lindung/konservasi yang tidak boleh dikonversi ke penggunaan lainnya. Kawasan yang boleh saling konversi adalah lahan-lahan dalam kawasan budidaya termasuk hutan produksi yang ada di dalamnya. Perluasan pemukiman, pertanian/perkebunan termasuk kebun sawit berada dalam Kawasan Budidaya tersebut. Satwa liar dan kebun sawit (pemukiman dan pertanian) berada pada kawasan yang berbeda dan tidak bercampur baur. Lantas, jika sudah ada habitat alamiah satwa-satwa liar tersebut mengapa satwa-satwa liar sering ditemukan dan diberitakan memasuki kawasan pemukiman penduduk, kawasan budidaya termasuk kebun sawit sehingga berkelahi dengan masyarakat?

Secara alamiah, perilaku satwa-satwa liar tidak mudah keluar dari zona nyaman habitatnya. Komunitas satwa liar bertahan tetap berada pada habitatnya secara turun temurun. Sehingga jika satwa-satwa liar terpaksa keluar dari habitatnya, berarti “rumahnya” satwa-satwa liar tidak nyaman lagi atau terancam. Mengapa tidak nyaman?

Ada tiga penyebab utama mengapa Satwa Liar terancam dan terdesak ke kawasan Budidaya. Maraknya pembalakan pohon-pohon (logging) dari habitat satwa liar yakni hutan lindung/konservasi. Sejak tahun 1970-an sampai sekarang hutan lindung/konservasi sering dirambah pembalakan kayu alam (legal dan illegal logging). Setiap tahun jutaan kubik kayu alam keluar dari hutan termasuk dari “rumahnya” satwa-satwa liar. Statistik Kementerian Kehutanan melaporkan ratusan kasus illegal logging setiap tahun tertangkap. Belum lagi illegal logging yang tidak tertangkap, pasti jauh lebih besar. Masyarakat di sekitar hutan tahu benar bagaimana maraknya kegiatan illegal logging ini.

Selain pembalakan kayu, ancaman satwa liar juga datang dari perburuan satwa liar (illegal hunting) yang juga marak dari tahun ke tahun. Setiap tahun Kementerian Kehutanan melaporkan ratusan perburuan illegal yang berhasil ditangkap. Lagi-lagi yang tidak tertangkap jauh lebih besar. Penemuan Gajah mati namun gadingnya sudah hilang, bangkai Harimau tanpa kulit yang ditemukan di hutan-hutan lindung. Banyaknya kasus penyeludupan satwa-satwa liar yang dilindungi setiap tahun dari berbagai daerah menunjukkan parahnya masalah ini.

Sedangkan yang ketiga adalah kebakaran hutan lindung dan konservasi setiap tahun. Kementerian Kehutanan mencatat bahwa setidaknya setiap tahun seluas 3-5 juta hektar hutan lindung/konservasi, cagar alam, suaka margasatwa, taman nasional, taman wisata terbakar. Ketiga faktor (logging, perburuan satwa liar, kebakaran hutan) yang mengancam satwa liar tersebut menunjukkan masih buruknya tata kelola hutan lindung/konservasi “rumahnya” satwa-satwa liar.

Tata kelola inilah yang perlu diperbaiki pemerintah kedepan. Pemerintah harus tegas menghentikan kegiatan apapun di hutan lindung/konservasi yang merupakan habitat alamiah satwa-satwa liar. “Rumahnya” satwa liar yang terbakar dan rusak akibat logging perlu segera di restorasi. “Mengkambing hitamkan” kebun sawit di kawasan budidaya sebagai faktor yang mengancam habitat satwa-satwa liar, selain tidak berdasar dan hanya mengalihkan permasalahan yang sebenarnya yakni tata kelola yang buruk habitat Satwa Liar di hutan lindung/konservasi.

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