Transjakarta Bus Stop Engulfed in Flames, The Issue of Palm Oil Causing Forest Fire is Now Trending Again
In the Covid pandemic with an average addition cases of more than 4000 positive cases of Covid-19 every day, but the crowd without social distancing like demonstrations carried out by workers and students again occured in Indonesia. This action was a protest against the ratification of the Job Creation Law (Omnibus Law) which was authorized by the DPR on October 5, 2020. The demonstration occured in almost cities in Indonesia, one of them was in Jakarta.
The demonstration ended in chaos and destruction and burning of several public facilities, such as the Transjakarta bus stop. This incident received attention from the Indonesian people and became a trending topic on various social media such as Twitter. Many netizens on Twitter regreted this incident. However among the netizen, there was a tweet stated that burning the busway stop didnt have a big impact compared than burning forest for oil palm plantation.
The linking of the forest and land fires disaster in Indonesia with oil palm plantations has become again a trending topic discussed by netizens. Even though the framing of mass media and social media news that canalise the Indonesian forest and land fires disaster to corner and accuse the national palm oil industry as the main actor, without based on rational analysis and empirical evidence. Therefore, information that reveals facts is needed to counter that issue, so netizen are educated and not easily provoked by negatif news.
Forest and land fire is a global phenomenon that occurs every year. Not only in Indonesia, forest and land fires also occur in various countries, not the specific ecosystem nor specific industry/commodity. Developed countries like Australia, America, Russia also experience this. Even though in these countries have the technology and resources that can mitigate forest and land fires disasters and dont have oil palm plantation, but these disasters still occur.
The forest and land fires that occurred in Indonesia, especially in 2019, occurred throughout Indonesia, not only in areas that have oil palm plantations such as Sumatra and Kalimantan. However, these disasters also occur in provinces that do not have oil palm plantations, such as East Nusa Tenggara, West Nusa Tenggara, Lampung, Maluku, East Java, Central Java, and Yogyakarta. Even North Kalimantan and Bengkulu, which are the provinces with oil palm plantation, that have forest and land fires, but their area relatively small compared to East Nusa Tenggara and West Nusa Tenggara provinces which they dont have oil palm plantation.
The framing news that linking the palm oil industry, especially corporations that conduct land clearing by burning land and causing the forest and land fire disaster which occurs in Indonesia every year is considered quite successful. Even though the data states that forest and land fires occurring in palm oil concessions are relatively small, but the palm oil industry are still accused of being the main actor. Based on Global Forest Watch data regarding the distribution of hotspots in 2019, it shows that around 68 percent of the hotspots were outside concessions. Meanwhile, hotspots in the palm oil concession were relatively small at only 11 percent, or less than those in pulpwood industrial concessions (16 percent).
If it is true, the oil palm industry as the main actor behind the forest and land fires disaster in Indonesia, but in fact is the smallholders or corporations have also suffered losses. Apart from the risk of criminal law and large fines, palm oil producers will also suffered a lot of losses like decreasing productivity and consumer rejection especially in developed country markets because their preferences of high sustainablity aspects are not fulfilled.
With the potential losses received by the palm oil industry players due to forest and land fires and its smoke, it is difficult to accept logically that oil palm plantations player, both individually and collectively, do the burning or deliberately allowing fire in their surrounding, which will harm themself. On the contrary, oil palm industry players (smallholder farmers and large plantation companies) take mitigation to prevent the emergence of hotspots on their land or surrounding land so that the forest and land fires disaster does not occur.
The same thing has been done by GAPKI which issued Guidelines for the Prevention of Forest and Land Fire in Oil Palm Plantations for its members, as an effort to anticipate forest and land fire which usually occurs in the drought season. In these guidelines, plantation companies are asked to identify and map the fire-prone areas in their plantation so that areas can become the focus of monitoring and protection, without forgetting to do monitoring other areas.
In addition, member companies are also asked to build and activate Task Force which includes their companies and communities, and must also coordinate with the Fire Service, The Indonesian National Armed Forces, The Indonesian National Police, The National Agency for Disaster Countermeasure, Fire Care Village (Desa Peduli Api) and Task Forces from other companies.
The palm oil industry, which is actually a victim of the forest and land fires disaster, but instead being scapegoated and considered as the main actor without based on rational analysis and empirical evidence. The land around the oil palm concession that was burned or the land that had been burned and then turned into oil palm plantations is considered as evidence of justifying the allegation. It seems that the conclusions about the causes of the fires have already been built “on the table”, so that they only collect data and information in fire area that justify predetermined conclusions.
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