Indonesia — Annual forest conversion to palm oil plantations increased 400-fold from 1,163 hectares in 1991 to 461,992 hectares in 2007 in Central Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo, reports a new report published by Forest Watch Indonesia, a local NGO.
The study highlighted Thursday in The Jakarta Post found that 816,000 hectares of forest in the province was cleared for palm oil plantations in 2006. About 14 percent of the province’s 3 million hectares of peatlands had been converted into palm oil plantations by 2007. Peatlands store large amounts of carbon which is released into the atmosphere when the wetlands are drained, cleared, and planted with oil palm.
The report also looked at forest clearing in Riau, on the island of Sumatra, and Papua, which is part of New Guinea. In Riau, 38.5 percent of its total forest area has been allocated for conversion into plantations, of which 1.5 million hectares consisted of palm oil plantations. In Papua, 480,000 hectares had been cleared and allocated for growing oil palm.
The report showed that logging continues to be an important source of forest loss and degradation. It also highlighted the role of government resettlement programs in deforestation, including 773,331 hectares of forest in Riau converted into transmigration areas, and 375,203 hectares in Papua.