PALM OIL NEWS
July 30, 2019
Major peat forests still left in Salim palm oil concession
JAKARTA (foresthints.news) - The Indonesian Environment and Forestry Ministry sent a warning letter on peat protection to a Salim-linked palm oil concession in June last year, as reported by foresthints.news. Following up on this, recent satellite images show that major remaining peat forests in the concession operating in West Kalimantan province are still standing.
A spatial analysis conducted by the foresthints.news team indicated that when the letter was sent to the company, the remaining undrained peatlands in the PT SKL concession located in Sintang regency, including peat forests within them, amounted to 2,092 hectares, equivalent to more than half the size of Brussels.
To be precise, 82.61% of the remaining undrained peatlands in the palm oil concession were composed of peat forests, while the other 17.39% were non-forested peatlands.
Satellite data confirms that from late June 2018 to early July 2019, as many as 1,663 hectares, or 96.25% of the total remaining undrained forested peatlands in the palm oil concession, had still yet to be drained.
The Planet Explorer images below, which portray the peat forests still standing in the concession (delineated in yellow), serve as evidence that the remaining peat forests, equivalent to half the size of Brussels, had not been cleared by the palm oil company from late June 2018 until early July 2019.
Minor portion drained
There is also however part of the PT SKL palm oil concession comprised of 64.87 hectares, or 3.75% of the total remaining undrained forested peatlands, which had yet to be cleared when the ministry's letter was sent but which has been drained since early August 2018.
Nonetheless, the forested peatlands drained in the palm oil concession over about a year, from late June 2018 until July 2019, are much smaller than those which remain standing.
The following Planet Explorer image depicts the peatland areas drained over roughly a year (delineated in red), amounting to under 4% of the total remaining forested peatlands which had yet to be drained when the ministry's letter was sent to the company.
Meanwhile, the latest Planet Explorer image (Jul 29), which unfortunately only covers part of the PT SKL concession, shows that new peat drainage involving sections of non-forested peatlands has taken place.
Further observation needed
The clear evidence from early July 2019 demonstrating that there are still significant remaining peat forests standing in the PT SKL palm oil concession doesn't mean that this is the end of the matter however.
Continuing observation is essential, specifically to ensure that the peat forests in the palm oil concession keep standing after July 2019. It is very much hoped, of course, that these remaining peat forests are not cleared by the company to make way for new palm plantations.
If the company refrains from developing the remaining peat forests, as greatly hoped, this would provide a huge boost to the ground-level implementation of President Joko Widodo’s palm oil expansion moratorium - signed in September last year - which pertains particularly to areas with good forest cover.