Indonesia’s land are being cleared to make an efficient biofuel that comes from the fruit of palm trees. The country has the largest amount of deforestation in the world per year. Palm oil is also used in cosmetics and many foods. There is 11.9 million hectares of palm oil planted in Indonesia. Malaysia and Indonesia account for 85% global palm oil production. 4.5 million people make a living on palm oil, 3/4th of that oil is exported. The boom for palm oil came in the food crisis of 2008 with international buyers of China, India, and the Middle East. Indonesia’s production of palm oil come from land that was once tropical forest. The forests are being slashed and burned to make room for the growing demand of palm oil. Destruction of forests are creating more emissions of greenhouse gases than they are solving by biofuels. Cutting down the trees that intake the carbon is bad for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Even worse is the burning of the trees which then releases more CO2 into the air.
|Deforestation and planting of Palm Oil Trees|
Parts of Indonesia’s land is covered in rich soil called peat. Peat releases a lot of carbon. When the forests are burned the carbon gets released into the air. Indonesia’s destruction of peatlands accounts for 4% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. This is a large amount for the size of the island. Groups are trying to preserve the peatlands but they have not been very successful.
Palm oil comes with a high cost of destroying the ecosystem and biodiversity. Orangutans live in the same areas as the prime soils for palm plants; moist forested areas near the rivers. The fires set to clear the forests are endangering living populations in the region that may not move quick enough to escape the fire. Poaching is occurring the regions for illegal pet trading. Companies planting palm trees are also shooting the Orangutans that are on the planting lands. There is a conservation area in Indonesia for the Orangutans and Elephants. Palm trees do not make for a livable forest for these animals because palm trees only have a single layered canopy and reduced undergrowth.
The WWF has stepped in to help save the orangutan population from becoming extinct from the palm oil plantations. The papers for the Forest Minister to help preserve some of the peat lands is waiting to be signed but is being ignored. There are organizations that are working to help with the region if the government will not. Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil works to keep land for the indigenous people and preserve the natural forest. It also looks to keep greenhouse emissions down and work promote fair trade. Palm oil production needs to be controlled in Indonesia. These plantations are destroying the natural life in the country. The economics of the biofuel is great but soon the island will have nearly no natural forests left. The National Forests need to be preserved better and so do the animals that live within them.