Threatened Wildlife Habitat and Oil Palm Plantation
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.
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