March 29, 2019

Over 100 palm oil companies on the list for new permits

JAKARTA ( - More than 100 companies are on the list to obtain new permits for the expansion of new palm plantations covering an area of more than 1.4 million hectares, twenty times the size of Singapore, much of which contains high carbon stock (HCS) forests.

However, after President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo signed an order for a moratorium on palm oil expansion in September last year, most of these permit processes were stopped.

The ending of the processes for issuing new palm oil permits to over 100 companies was one of the clear positive effects of the President's order imposing the palm oil expansion moratorium.

As mentioned above, a significant portion of the more than the 1.4 million hectares awaiting permits is composed of high carbon stock (HCS) areas, including and especially relatively intact forests on the island of Papua.

This data has been obtained from a top government official, partially in response to a news report by (Mar 26) which expressed concern that the recently-adopted EU delegated act may prompt Jakarta to revoke the President's order on the palm oil expansion moratorium.

The following photos demonstrate how West Papua’s HCS areas are being developed for palm oil expansion. The President's order, at the very least, ensured that no new palm oil permits would be issued, most notably those involving Papua and West Papua's intact forests.

Ministerial regulation bans new permits

Furthermore, in December last year, Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya also issued a ministerial regulation serving as a legal basis for banning new palm oil permits involving good forest cover. 

This new ministerial regulation was delivered as a follow-up to the President's order regarding the palm oil expansion moratorium. 

However, monitoring of the implementation of the President's order as well as the ministerial regulation is essential as a means of providing input to the government and also exposing moratorium violations.

If the President's order for the palm oil expansion moratorium is revoked, due perhaps to disappointment with the EU delegated act, this would certainly be good news for the more than 100 palm oil companies waiting to get a permit.

The revoking of the President’s order would mean there are no legal reasons not to process these new palm oil permits which involve good forest cover. This is a major concern that deserves serious attention.

If the President's order is cancelled, new proposals for palm oil plantation development will flood the Environment and Forestry Ministry office, including those addressed to governors and regents/mayors, returning the palm oil licensing system to a business-as-usual pattern with no due regard to the protection of good forest cover.



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