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Ecological Impacts of Palm Oil Expansion in Indonesia

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Talking about one of many important Indonesian commodities, the Palm Oil, we sure can agree together that it has so many usefulness for our life. We can use the oil for cooking, an additional for biodiesel fuel, an ingredient to make butter, material for making pomade, material for making some stuff like lotion and skin cream, and many more.

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With those benefits, the demand of palm oil is keep increasing through the year. And that’s why, some companies decided to make an expansion, making their production larger, more relevant and sufficient to meet the customers request. But, there’s of course some impacts because of this activity, especiall the one related to environmen. And in this article, we want to tell you about the ecological impacts of palm oil expansion in Indonesia. Check it out below

Oil Palm in Indonesia

Before actually talking about the effects or the ecological impacts of palm oil expansion in Indonesia, we want to share some information first about the oil palm industry in Indonesia. As you may know already, palm oil has so many useful benefits for the people in Indonesia and basically around the world. Palm oil or Elaeis is the industrial plant that is very important for the other factories to produce their products like biodiesel or cooking oil. All the gardens are bringing the owners a lot of money because of the conversion they made that changing the forests into their money fields.

Indonesia, as a developing country is the biggest oil palm producer in the world. Until know, parts of some islands in Indonesia like Kalimantan, Java, Sulawesi, and Sumatra are used for industrial purposes, for the plantation of palm gardens. The trees of the palm can reach for about 24 meters high. After growing big enough, they will cutted down by the workers.

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The industry of Palm Oil firstly came in Indonesia back during the colonial era in 1848 by Dutch government at that time. Several seeds were planted on Kebun Raya Bogor, some in Deli, North Sumatra in about 1870-ish. Not long after that, in 1900-ish, there was a industrial revolution, and the industry of palm oil started getting more serious.

In 1911, the palm oil was commercially cultivated for business and the government was very happy about that, becuase the oil was becoming a popular item back then. The first guy who firstly made it popular was Adrien Hallet, a Belgian. He the followed by K. Schadt. The first palm oil garden was in the area of Sumatra island, in Deli (Eastern Sumatra) and Aceh to be exact. It was reaching for about 5 thousand hectares. And then, the gardens still having an expansion, starting from that era until now. During th New Order, the expansion was pretty excessive, rising the price of the oil.

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Oil Palm Production

Like mentioned on the previous paragraphs, the palm oil is one of many important commodities of Indonesia. People in Indonesia are both highest producer and consumer in the world. Indonesia is also exporing about a half portion of total palm oil supplies in the world. The production of this palm oil is keep increasing, starting from back in the 1964 til now.

Since then, the palm oil supply in Indonesia increased to 157 thousand tons of oil to 33,5 million tons in 2014. Those numbers don’t stop there. Indonesia estimated the export of palm oil in 2020 can reach about 40 million tons. That increasing number is relevant to the condition of production in this country, where most green lands are now becoming palm oil gardens.

Because of that, many investors would like to “plant’ their money to the soil of Indonesia. They also not only support the other economic investment like buildings and recreations. The investors focusing on this precious thing, palm oil. Almost 2/3 of total palm oil productions in Indonesia are owned by multinational companies. And the rest 1/3 is owned by local farmers as their assets.

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The trees that producing palm oil, which planted for about 25 years ago are having the potential to reproduce 4 tons per hectar each year. There’s also some creatives producers who want to make the vearieties of palm oil, so there will be a multiply in profits per hectar. Of all islands in Indonesia, Kalimantan and Sumatra islands are the ones that give about 96% of palm oil production in Indonesia. And those islands also suffer the ecological impacts of palm oil expansion in Indonesia.

The Expansion of Oil Palm

Of course Indonesia also want to get more profits for the people by promoting and selling their best product of palm oil. Thanks to those steps of production, the palm oil can always becoming an important commodity not only for Indonesia, but also for all the countries around the world that also searching for a new source of fuel that has a lot of benefits.

To meet the demand, Indonesia needs to pay a lot of attention to the palm oil supply. Beside for gaining income from exports, Indonesia can also have a good relationship with the buying countries such as Japan, America, and other countries around the globe. That’s why, there’s a way that needed to be done, which is expansion.

Expansion is the next step a producer in all levels starting from the lowest type of seller like retail, corporations, up to a a greater form, which is a nation. For applying the next steps, of course some resources should be “sacrified”. Money, assets, and also environment. Sometimes, people are too focusing on the expansion without even noticing the ecological impacts of palm oil expansion in Indonesia.

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Every company should have a social responsibility on their agenda. This thing is very important both for making the company more stable for upcoming external issues, and also give some respects to the people who live around the company with proper understanding. If they fail to fulfill this requirement, than the expansion doesn’t have any mean at all except feeding the greed with green papers.

The Impacts

In this section, we want to talk about the impacts of the palm oil expansions. Of course there must be some things that will change in the future because of expansion. We’re looking at the two aspects that will be mentioned below, which is economy and ecology. So, without further do, let’s start with the first one :

  • Economical Impacts of Palm Oil Expansion

The main goal of an expansion of production is to have a higher profits and more stable company structure. People who are effected by this expansion are the owners and also workers who are doing the activities in a particular company. Beside that, expansion can also make the economic growth in certain areas more faster. And the effects of that is people are having more decent life than before. The villagers can even join in to cultivate the newly made fields of palm oil and work together as a team with the company to make greater profits.

Expansion creates more wider palm oil gardens on the area. With that, the productity is also increased. Farmers now can produce a lot more products than before. They can produce more money to their own family and have way better life before expansion. But, with the wider areas they should maintained, the cost of production is also relevantly following to rise up.

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But, with all those good results becasue of an expansion of palm oil happening in certain areas in Indonesia. The people also suffer degredation in their life because the life supports like clean water and fertile soil are not sufficient enough. Because of the soil has lose its moisture, when the dry season comes, the plants will be destroyed in shoter time.

  • Ecological Impacts of Palm Oil Expansion

Not only that, the ecological impacts of palm oil expansion in Indonesia can also be found on the animals who happen to live around the expanded area. The population of fauna are decreasing slowly. Fishes who were live in the river can not be found anymore. Most of them dead because of the waste that contained in the water.

Expansion also making the decreasing quality of watershed. Because of that, many bad things happen like the land slide, land erosion, and sedimentation.

The ecologial impacts of palm oil expansion in Indonesia are surely bad. But, with certain agreement between the locals, government, and the particular company, there should be a way to make an expansion without exploitating the lands excessively.

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