JOURNAL MONITOR EDITION 5 : INDONESIAN PALM OIL PLANTATION IS NOT A DEFORESTATION DRIVER, BUT REFORESTATION ECONOMIC, SOCIAL, AND ECOLOGY IN ABANDONED LAND
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Deforestation is a normal phenomenon in every development process that has been carried out by all countries in the world. Deforestation also occurred in Indonesia, which had begun since the colonial period and was increasingly massive during the Orde Baru era. Although deforestation is normal in the development process, this issue has been used to discredit Indonesia’s oil palm plantations which are considered as the main drivers of deforestation in Indonesia.
The black campaign has an impact on the damage to the image of the Indonesian palm oil industry in global consumers until creates of various palm oil derivative’s product boycott movements in various countries. Therefore, this paper will reveal the history of deforestation in Indonesia and the origin of Indonesia’s oil palm plantations based on data and facts.
Indonesia’s forests has decreased areas from 162.3 million hectares in 1950 to 85.8 million hectares in 2017. Otherwise, the area of deforestation has increased from 68.1 million hectares to 101.9 million hectares in same period. If compared with expantion of oil palm plantation, the proportion of the area of oil palm plantations is only 0.4-9.7 percent of the area of deforestation in Indonesia. This shows that oil palm plantations are not the main driver of deforestation in Indonesia.
Based on history of deforestation in the Orde Baru era, was caused by massive logging activities. Massive and intensive logging activities, especially on Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi during the Orde Baru era, have implication of degraded forest land and turned into abandoned shrubs. Therefore, Orde Baru’s government provides programs to utilize ex-logging land, such as Transmigrasi and the development of oil palm plantations. This was confirmed by Fahmuddin dan Gunarso’s study (2019) which showed that most of the oil palm plantation land came from agroforesty and shrub area, while the share of primary forest used for oil palm plantations was very small.
This study showed confirm the fact about the development of Indonesian oil palm plantations is not the main driver (driver) of deforestation, but is an reforestation. Oil palm plantations have even re-greened the ecological, economic and social aspects of communities damaged by logging in the past. In ecology side, oil palm plantations absorb carbon dioxide, produce oxygen, increase biomass and carbon stocks, conserve soil and water or increase water holding capacity and produce biofuel replacing fossil energy that is reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
From an economic aspect, oil palm plantations increase farmers’ incomes, increase regional economic development, increase government revenue, and generate foreign exchange. Whereas socially, oil palm plantations increase employment opportunities, reduce poverty, increase rural development and improve income inequality.