JOURNAL MONITOR EDITION 11 : UTILIZATION OF PEATLAND: INDONESIA VS EUROPE
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The area of Indonesian peatland according to Ritung et al. (2011) covering an area of 14.9 million hectares. The vast availability of peatland, Government of Indonesia issued regulations related to peatland ecosystem management in PP No. 57 of 2016. This regulation concerning the management of peat ecosystem is divided into two functions, namely the protection function and the cultivation function. One of the cultivation that carried out on peatland is the development of oil palm plantations. Oil palm cultivation in peatland also has supported through Permentan No. 14/2009 and guideline from PPKS about techniques for cultivating sustainbale oil palm on peatland.
The area of oil palm plantations on peatland about 2.89 million hectares in 2018 or has increased along with the increase in the area of Indonesian oil palm plantations, but the proportion is smaller than the area of oil palm plantations on mineral land. However, the use of peatland for oil palm cultivation has received criticism from anti-palm NGOs, they has argument about oil palm cultivitation has cause of degraded environment and increasing greenhouse gas emissions. RSPO also has approved the application of the latest principles and criteria for oil palm sustainability, one of which is a ban on opening peatland for cultivation of new oil palms since November 2018.
Whereas, the cultivation of palm oil on peatland not contradiction regulation in Indonesia. Empirically, Indonesia also has a success story related about utilization of peatland for oil palm cultivation in the Negeri Lama (North Sumatra) which has been operating for 4 generations of economic life of oil palm plants and proven not cause environmental damage. In fact, oil palm on peatland in Negeri Lama by implementing sustainable cultivation that are able to fulfill the needs of previous generations without threaten the ability (profit decreasing) of current and future generations.
In other hand, peatland utilization in Europe tends to be more expansive and can cause environmental damage compared to Indonesia with its oil palm cultivation. European communitiries burn peat to be used as a source of energy, so that area of peatland lost in Europe is very large reached about 10.73 million hectares.
When compared with Indonesia, oil palm plantations on peatland in Indonesia is lower than the loss of European peatlands. Even the development of sustainable oil palm plantations is more environmentally beneficial compared to peat burning activities in Europe which actually damage the environment. This showed that the allegations of anti-palm oil NGOs and the RSPO for banning the cultivation of oil palm plantations on peatlands because of concern that it could damage the environment, are false accusations. Peat burning activities in Europe should have received more attention from international NGOs, if the aim was purely to preserve the environment.