By: Suer Suryadi for Wildlife Conservation Society
Oil palm is one Indonesia’s prime products that generates foreign exchange, labour, and regional economic development. The oil palm industry is also a unique resource that generates income at community level. The industry allows central and local government to receive taxes, retribution, and export tax from palm oil products and its derivatives. Indonesia targets a continuous oil palm expansion to retain its role and domination as the largest palm oil producer in the world. The oil palm plantations are mostly expanded in non-forest area and forest areas through forest conversion mechanism. Those forest conversions have significantly decreased the diversity and foraging behavior of wildlife and influence food chain.
In 2004, key players in palm oil industry– including growers, mills, traders, buyers and environmental NGOs established the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to anticipate and reduce socio-environmental issues related to the business. Over the last few years, the European market have encouraged and demanded that producer countries avoid further deforestation and social conflicts by implementing RSPO’s Principles and Criteria. The Government of Indonesia has finally responded to this demand by issuing an Agriculture Ministerial Regulation No. 19/2011 regarding Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) Standards. This regulation would be tried out in 2011, and effectively implemented in 2012.
To develop a better understanding on the above issues, the Wildlife Conservation Society Indonesia Program in collaboration with Zoological Society of London has carried out a study on the Indonesian legal and policy framework related to biodiversity conservation within oil palm plantations.