Sustainable Palm Oil Vs Illegal Palm Oil

foto by Aceng Sofian/SawitFest 2021
Sustainable Palm Oil Vs Illegal Palm Oil

InfoSAWIT, JAKARTA – In the late days, Indonesia faces negative campaigns from Europe about palm oil when the world faces climate change issues and business competition. European Parliament and Board of Europe are now arranging the regulations to ban products deriving from deforestation to be sold in European Union. The products are cow meat, coffee, chocolate, soybean, wood, and palm oil.

The countries that send (the products) should deliver explanation about supply chain which was not deriving from deforestation for it is one biggest provider of green – house gas (GHG) emission. Forests are the world lungs that capture carbon, release oxygen. Forests are the sources of natural conservation which are important to the world to keep going on.

Indonesia and Malaysia that join Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) agreed to get the same strategies to block every negative campaign from Europe. One strategy to do is to intensify sustainable palm oil product campaign.

Palm oil producer countries always confirm to implement sustainable palm oil practices. In Indonesia, Director of Institut Pertanian Bogor (IPB) University, Prof Arif Satria once showed sustainable palm oil practices to 11 ambassadors from Europe in webinar of Himpunan Alumni IPB University, (16/12/2021).

Prof Arif also mentioned that palm oil plantations in Indonesia run based on sustainable principles. “There are field proofs. I do hope, by the seminar, there will be more inspirations and ideas to get in the form of policy or research agenda,” he said in series of Musyawarah Nasional (Munas) VI Himpunan Alumni IPB University.

Sadly, what the government does to block palm oil negative campaigns faces illegal palm oil plantations in forest regions that lay about 3,1 - 3,4 million hectares. These are illegal and are in conservation forests about 115.694 hectares, protected forests about 174.910 hectares, limited protected forests about 454.849 hectares, regular production forests about 1.484.075 hectares and conserved production forests about 1.224.291 hectares. Of 3,1 million hectares, if we use data from Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MEF), 576.983 hectares are in proposal to get forest releases. The rests about 1,2 - 1,7 million hectares are not proposed to be released to be legal.

It is assumed, such plantations belong to personals. We do know that palm oil plantations operate in forestry regions. Besides the weak monitoring system, and no synchronization about provincial and regional spatial with area spatial in MEF, location and plantation licenses are in the district and province but forest release licenses to be plantations are in MEF.

Prior the government disciplined illegal mining and plantations since 2010. It raised conflicts namely from the regions. They sent documents to president that plantation and mining are billions rupiah of investment. Five majors and a palm oil stakeholder from Central Kalimantan requested material test of Forestry Regulation to Constitutional Court.

The Constitutional Court agreed the claim and ordered MEF not to randomly publish forest regions. In fact, the licenses were mass. Some companies got plantation licenses from regional governments and got business licenses from National Land Agencies, but had no forest release licenses to the areas.

In people’s palm oil plantations, there are more complex issues. Besides illegal logging, the numbers are more and the plantations can be 5 to 25 hectares. For they are illegal, both people and companies’ plantations do not pay taxes.

The government tried to deliver solution on palm oil plantation issues in forestry by publishing Government Regulation (GR) Number 60/2012 which has been renewed by publishing GR Number 104/2015 about Procedures of Allotment Change and Forest Region Function. The complex procedures got license to get solution but the stakeholders took it cold. One complexity is the obligation to provide substitution areas in forest region exchange if the licenses are in production forests. It is not easy to do namely to get the same width and legally clear and clean. If the areas exist, it is not easy too to get border procedures.

By Undang-Undang Cipta Kerja and GR Number 24/2021 about Administration Sanction Procedures and Non-Tax Revenue Procedures which derive from Administration Fine in Forestry Sector, the government tried to analyze illegal palm oil plantations with fair principles. The GR required to get palm oil ‘bleaching’ in forestry regions. The first is by conducting inventory: according to spatial, not overlapping. Palm oil plantations which are not the same with spatial should be differentiated with those having license and not.

The plantations having licenses will get administration sanction, such as, fine. Though it could be a solution, but there are weaknesses in the regulation.

The first, when will illegal palm oil plantations inventory end? Data validation of  tanah objek reforma agraria (TORA) took time to run. From inventory and land mastery verification in forestry regions may seem easier because they end in ‘bleaching’. The category is about transmigration, livings, dry plantations, social and public facilities, paddy field, people’s ponds areas. The areas to notice are non -inventory that covers TORA allocation from 20% plantations, unproductive conversed production forest (CPF), and government’s program to get new paddy fields. In the reverse, MEF is in cooperation with related regional governments to conduct inventory, including every interest in it.

The second, Chapter 110B in GR 24/2021 regulates about personals’ illegal palm oil plantations. The sanction is fine. If referring to calculation in the explanation chapter about 20% fine tariff from revenue, there will be income from illegal palm oil plantation ‘bleaching’ about Rp 75 billion. Of 3,1 million hectares, if it is assumed that the wood potential which has been cut off about 30 meter - cubic per hectare from 676.963 hectares, the wood volume could be 17.308.980 meter - cubic. It means, the tax - provisi sumber daya hutan (PSDH), if referring to Regulation of Minister No. 64/2017 about the price of mix forest logs which is Rp 600.000 per meter - cubic, the tax could be nearly Rp 10,4 billion. If forestation fund tariff is US$ 12 per meter – cubic, the tax could be Rp 2,2 billion.

Will people’s palm oil plantation owners pay such numbers? In addition, every planter in protected forests and conservation forests should handover their areas to the country. With palm oil plantation complexity in the forest regions, palm oil moratorium should be prolonged to provide time in governance and data in order not to get more complexity.

The third, it is better not to get new planting to increase palm oil production but by improving cultivation and environmental bio-technology. Palm oil trees which are almost 3o years should be replanted by planting new ones in higher productivity. That is why we have to be able to master science and palm oil technology starting from seeds to the process.

The fourth, for everyone that proposed to get forest release that lays about 576.983 hectares, those in charge need to immediately publish the license so that the plantations get legal certainty.

By: Pramono Dwi Susetyo/Worked at Ministry of Environment and Forestry