TEGUH, chief of the village of Henda, in the Indonesian portion of Borneo, enters his office brimming with apologies for being late. The acrid scent of smoke wafts from his clothes. He explains that he was guiding police and firefighters to a fire just outside the village. A farmer had decided to clear his land by burning it. Henda sits amid Borneo’s vast peatlands; the fire had set the fertile soil smouldering for nearly 24 hours. It was a small fire, he says—perhaps a couple of hectares—but Mr Teguh still struggled to contain his exasperation, given the destruction wrought by fires set for land-clearance just a year ago.
Indonesia, which until several years ago was perceived as a notorious center of illegal logging, has finally become the first country in the world to gain certification for its wood-based products under the European Union Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) licensing scheme on legally produced tropical timber.
Conflict between large-scale oil-palm producers and local communities is widespread in palm-oil producer nations. With a potential doubling of oil-palm cultivation in Indonesia in the next ten years it is likely that conflicts between the palm-oil industry and communities will increase. We develop and apply a novel method for understanding spatial patterns of oil-palm related conflicts. We use a unique set of conflict data derived through systematic searches of online data sources and local newspaper reports describing recent oil-palm land-use related conflicts for Indonesian Borneo, and combine these data with 43 spatial environmental and social variables using boosted regression tree modelling. Reports identified 187 villages had reported conflict with oil-palm companies. Spatial patterns varied with different types of conflict. Forest-dependent communities were more likely to strongly oppose oil-palm establishment because of their negative perception of oil-palm development on the environment and their own livelihoods. Conflicts regarding land boundary disputes, illegal operations by companies, perceived lack of consultation, compensation and broken promises by companies were more associated with communities that have lower reliance on forests for livelihoods, or are located in regions that have undergone or are undergoing forest transformation to oil-palm or industrial-tree-plantations. A better understanding of the characteristics of communities and areas where different types of conflicts have occurred is a fundamental step in generating hypotheses about why certain types of conflict occur in certain locations. Insights from such research can help inform land use policy, planning and management to achieve more sustainable and equitable development. Our results can also assist certification bodies (e.g. the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil-RSPO, and the Indonesian and Malaysian versions, ISPO and MSPO), non-government-organisations, government agencies and other stakeholders to more effectively target mediation efforts to reduce the potential for conflict arising in the future.
Looking for fun on a rainy afternoon? Try this: take a blow-up globe down to your nearest public space – a shopping mall, perhaps, or a train station – and ask people to find Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous nation.
Quite regularly I have to smirk at photos of the umpteenth demonstration in Jakarta. In most instances, the actual demonstrators can be counted on two hands. But to give an some suggestion of grandeur, the Bakmi Brigades are called in; lookers-on, motorcyclists, undercover police and more join the “fray” to get their faces in the newspapers.
This atlas reveals forty-two years (1973-2015) of forest degradation by industrial logging, and conversion to industrial oil palm and pulpwood plantations in Borneo, Earth’s third largest island, shared by Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei. With about 8 Million hectares (Mha) of industrial oil palm plantations, about half of the estimated global planted area of 18 Mha, Borneo is the World‘s largest center of palm-oil production. Pulpwood plantations (about 1.3 Mha) – mainly fast growing Acacia and Eucalyptus –make a major contribution to the global production of wood pulp. Plantations have either cause deforestation by replacing forests or avoided this by using previously cleared areas. The extent of these two situations is contested.
This atlas offers the new possibility to distinguish oil palm and pulpwood companies who practiced deforestation from those who avoided it by planting on already deforested land.
In May 2014, the Member States of the United Nations adopted Resolution 23/1 on “strengthening a targeted crime prevention and criminal justice response to combat illicit trafficking in forest products, including timber.” The resolution promotes the development of tools and technologies that can be used to combat the illicit trafficking of timber. Stopping illegal logging worldwide could substantially increase revenue from the legal trade in timber and halt the associated environmental degradation, but law enforcement and timber traders themselves are hampered by the lack of available tools to verify timber legality. Here, we outline how scientific methods can be used to verify global timber supply chains. We advocate that scientific methods are capable of supporting both enforcement and compliance with respect to timber laws but that work is required to expand the applicability of these methods and provide the certification, policy, and enforcement frameworks needed for effective routine implementation.
Last year Claudio Bertonatti, one of the most renowned naturalists in Argentina, wrote an article that triggered an earthquake. The tsunami reached us here and is likely to extend even further.
In his article, The Vegan Confusion, he warns that eating vegetables doesn’t prevent the death of animals. Bertonatti has enraged thousands of vegans and vegetarians, as well as other nature conservationists. However, many who read his article learned something about animal rights that might never have occurred to them otherwise.