March 26, 2019

Worry EU move may prompt Jakarta to lift palm oil moratorium

JAKARTA ( - Greenomics Indonesia, an Indonesian-based forestry research group, has asked the European Union to study the palm oil permits granted from 2008-2015, the period during which the analysis underlying the recently-adopted EU Delegated Act was performed.

This analysis concluded that palm oil represents a high risk as a biofuel for use in EU countries as it is linked with the deforestation of high carbon stock (HCS) areas, especially in Indonesia during this period, such that palm oil has been classified as an unsustainable source of biofuel. 

A proper understanding of the data in question is, according to Greenomics, of great importance so that the EU’s measure is not counterproductive to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s move of issuing a legally-based order for a palm oil expansion moratorium involving HCS areas.

“We are worried that the EU delegated act could potentially disappoint President Jokowi, resulting in the cancellation of his order for the palm oil expansion moratorium,” stated Vanda Mutia Dewi, Greenomics Executive Director, in a press release (Mar 26).

The EU, Vanda explained, needs to look at the evidence showing that from the beginning of January 2008 until late October 2014, the relinquishment of state forests for palm oil expansion granted by the administration of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) amounted to 1.77 million hectares, or 27 times the size of Indonesia's capital Jakarta.

As a comparison, she continued, in the period from late October 2014 to the end of December 2015, during the administration period of President Jokowi, the relinquishment of state forest areas for the expansion of palm oil plantations stood at just more than 71 thousand hectares, about the same size as Jakarta.

"This means that during the period from 2008-2015, up to 96.11% of the overall relinquishment of state forest areas for the expansion of palm oil plantations occurred in the SBY era, while only 3.89% took place during Jokowi's tenure."

The following photos show examples of deforestation that occurred in West Papua province due to palm oil permits issued in President SBY's regime.

Greenomics feels that the European Union should also understand that the almost all the deforestation that took place from 2008-2015 was during the presidency of SBY.

“It seems like the EU Delegated Act is punishing Indonesia for deforestation that happened in the previous administration of President SBY,” Vanda lamented.

Consequences if Presidential order cancelled

It is essential for the EU to know that if President Jokowi cancels his order for a three-year ban on new palm oil permits involving high carbon stock areas, then the new permits issued will continue to contribute to massive deforestation in Indonesia.

Vanda cautioned the European Union against making the wrong move, saying that President Jokowi's disappointment with the EU delegated act could potentially lead to a cancellation of the Presidential order behind the palm oil expansion moratorium. 

“If the Presidential order for the moratorium is cancelled, the relinquishment of forest areas for the expansion of palm oil plantations will occur to the same extent as in the period from 2008 to late October 2014, numbering millions of hectares. This needs to be prevented,” she warned.

Vanda also pointed out that the cancellation of the order for the moratorium would not only result in the resumption of the relinquishment of vast state forest areas, but would also see the granting of new palm oil plantation permits involving good forest cover from non-state forest areas.

She appealed for the EU to see the matter in broader terms, saying, “The EU needs to understand these issues properly. We are very concerned that the EU delegated act may lead to the cancellation of the President's order for a moratorium on palm oil expansion.”