Threatened Wildlife Habitat and Oil Palm Plantation

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In reports of various anti-palm NGOs operating in Indonesia and internationally, it often contains news of how wildlife, especially protected animals in Indonesia, is endangered. Wildlife such as Orangutans, Sumatran Tigers, Sumatran Elephants and others are threatened with extinction due to the destruction of their habitat. Generally, these NGO link the development of oil palm plantations as the cause of the threatened habitat of wild animals. Such accusation is intentionally made to build the sympathy of the world community to condemn palm oil products. Tendentiously, anti-oil palm NGOs say that oil palm plantation is the cause of threatened Orangutans, Sumatran Tigers, Elephant and others. Is that right?

In contrast to Western countries, which during its construction spent all primary forests including wildlife inhabitants, Indonesia did not. Indonesia from the beginning was already aware of the importance of the preservation of wild animals and the variety of plants. Laws (e.g. the Forestry Law, Environmental Law, Spatial Planning Law, and others) have assigned a minimum of 30 percent of the land area for protected areas (protected forests and conservation forests) as the “homes” of wildlife and plant varieties.

According to Forestry Statistics (2019), the area of ​​protected and conservation forest in Indonesia reaches 41.19 million hectares. In protected forests and conservation  forests, there are nature sanctuaries, wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, recreational parks, community forest parks, hunting parks and others that become “homes” of wild animals and plant varieties. Protected forest / conservation forest is the habitat (In Situ) of orangutan, tiger, elephant, bear, rhinos, and others. Determining wildlife habitat location is not done randomly, but is determined based on their natural habitat.

In accordance with the regulations, the habitat of the wildlife is located in a Protected Area that may not be converted to other uses. Convertible areas are lands within the cultivation area including the production forest. Expansion of residential uses and agriculture / plantations, including oil palm plantations are within the Area of ​​the Cultivation. Wildlife habitat and oil palm plantations are in different areas, and not overlapping each other. So, if there is a natural habitat of wild animals is why are wild animals often found and reported entering the residential area, cultivation area including oil palm plantations so they become the concern of the community?

Naturally, wild animals is not easy to get out of the comfort of their habitat. Wild animals survive to remain in their hereditary habitat. So if wild animals are forced out of their own habitat, their “homes” are no longer comfortable or threatened. Why is it uncomfortable?

There are three main reasons why wildlife is threatened and pushed out into the cultivation area. The rise of logging in the wildlife habitat. Since the 1970s until now, our forests have been cleared out by logging the natural wood (legal and illegal logging). Every year, millions of cubic of natural wood are extracted out of the forest, including from the “home” of wildlife. Data from The Ministry of Forestry reported hundreds of illegal logging cases caught annually. Not to mention illegal logging cases that are not caught, there would have been much more. Communities around the forest know exactly how illegal logging activities are rising widely.

In addition to logging, the threat to wildlife also comes from illegal hunting (wild hunting), which is also rife from year to year. Every year, the Ministry of Forestry reports hundreds of illegal hunts that have been documented. Again, the ones that are not  documented would have been bigger in number. Elephants were found dead, but their tusks were gone. Dead skinless tiger was found in protected forest. The large number of smuggling cases of protected wildlife each year from different regions shows the severity of the problem.

The third reason is fires in protected forest and conservation forest every year. The Ministry of Forestry noted that at least 3-5 million hectares of protected / conservation forest, nature reserve, wildlife sanctuary, national park, tourist park on was caught on fire every year. These three factors (logging, wildlife hunting, wildfires) that threaten the wildlife indicate the poor management of conservation forest or the “home” of wildlife. This management is what the government needs to improve. Governments must decisively stop any activities in protected / conservation forests that are natural habitats of wild animals. “The homes” of wild animals that are burned and damaged by logging need immediate restoration.

“Scapegoating” oil palm plantations in the cultivation area as a threatening factor for wildlife habitats, is clearly irrational and it just diverts problems, it also does not solve poor management of wildlife habitat in protected / conservation forest. Based on the new results of research also proven that the biodiversity’s number of types in oil palm plantations is not always lower than the biodiversity in the ecosystem benchmark (initial land before oil palm planttaion or High Carbon Stocks. Even the development of oil palm plantations in several areas of the study site increased the biodiversity’s number of types of herpetofauna and butterflies.

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. Satwa liar seperti Orang Utan, Mawas, Harimau Sumatera, Gajah Sumatera dan lain-lain sering diberitakan terancam punah akibat rusaknya habitatnya. Laporan LSM tersebut umumnya mengaitkan 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, Harimau, 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 sudah sadar betul pentingnya kelestarian satwa-satwa liar maupun ragam tumbuhan alam. Undang-undang (misalnya UU kehutanan, UU lingkungan hidup, UU 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 2019, luas hutan lindung dan konservasi di Indonesia mencapai seluas 41.19 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 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) didalam habitat satwa liar. Sejak tahun 1970-an sampai sekarang hutan kita sudah habis dirambah pembalakan kayu alam (legal dan illegal logging). Setiap tahun jutaan kubik kayu alam keluar dari hutan termasuk dari “rumahnya” satwa-satwa liar. Statsitik 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 gadingya 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 mengalihkan permasalahan juga tidak menyelesaikan buruknya habitat satwa liar di hutan lindung/konservasi. Berdasarkan hasil penelitian terbaru juga membuktikan bahwa jumlah jenis biodiversitas di kebun sawit tidak selalu lebih rendah dibandingkan dengan biodiversitas yang ada di Ecosystem Benchmark (lahan sebelum kebun sawit) atau HCV/NKT (areal berhutan). Bahkan pengembangan kebun sawit di beberapa daerah lokasi penelitian, justru meningkatkan jumlah jenis biodiversitas seperti herpetofauna  dan kupu-kupu.

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