Demanding Corporate Responsibility for Protection of Peatlands – Peat Forests, Communities and Extending Palm Oil Moratorium to Improve Palm Oil Plantation Governance

Demanding Corporate Responsibility for Protection of Peatlands – Peat Forests, Communities and Extending Palm Oil Moratorium to Improve Palm Oil Plantation Governance

We already know that one of the causes of climate change is the clearing of forests and peat forests for large-scale palm oil, acacia, rubber, and other plantations. So, it can be said that peatlands have macroeconomic value for the business of exploiting natural resources and land.

What about society?

The community lives by relying on small-scale agricultural businesses to meet their daily needs and local markets. The way the community cultivates the land in the traditional way then makes them accused of environmental destruction, illegal logging, and the cause of the haze disaster which leads to legal action or criminalization.

In fact, for hundreds of years, the community has had good local wisdom in peatland management, which is still continuing in a sustainable manner. However, the government and stakeholders forget to calculate the conversion of forest land, peat forest, and peatland for large-scale plantations and mining companies.

Well, big companies in the palm oil plantation sector, acacia plantations (HTI), and rubber have an obligation to maintain, manage peatlands properly and are not allowed to burn peatlands. Industrial Forest (HTI) companies that are members and suppliers of the FSC are required to implement this policy because otherwise their sustainability certificate will be revoked which of course will result in the termination of product purchases. This also applies to oil palm plantation companies, if they do not implement policies, one of which is not planting on peatlands, they will get market sanctions, at least temporarily stopping the purchase of CPO from buyers until the most severe is the revocation of the RSPO certification, until restoration are made.

Palm oil plantation companies since 2014 have issued a No Deforestation, No Peat Development, No Exploitation (NDPE) policy initiated by Wilmar International. The NDPE policy is considered effective in minimizing violations by subsidiaries, suppliers, and traders. The government’s policy with the Presidential Instruction on the Moratorium on Palm Oil and Peat Plantations No. 8 of 2018, further strengthens good sustainable practices in the oil palm plantation sector. But unfortunately, the policy has not been optimally carried out by the central, provincial, and district governments, it seems that they are afraid to carry out this presidential instruction.

(Jonder’s documentation of FFB transporting equipment trapped in a peat puddle photo in one of the palm oil concessions in Kubu Raya Regency, this company is also a subsidiary of the pioneers of the NDPE policy)

Peat Fire

The area of ​​peatlands in West Kalimantan province is 1.73 million hectares (Map of Peatland Distribution and Carbon Content in Kalimantan Island, Wetlands International – Indonesia Program, 2004), the vastness of peatlands in West Kalimantan is certainly a blessing and a great opportunity in good peatland management. Peatlands in West Kalimantan are evenly distributed in all districts and cities. Ketapang Regency and Kubu Raya Regency are regencies that have extensive peatlands. Meanwhile, Pontianak is the capital of the province has peatland areas spread across several sub-districts. If there is smog, Pontianak is one of the worst cities with air pollution due to smog. The smog coming from surrounding districts and peatland fires in Pontianak City itself. Then what accelerates smoke pollution in Pontianak is the limited number of trees that exist and grow in the city. As for trees in certain places, the ability to absorb carbon is also very low, plus the number of motorized vehicles continues to go up.

(Documentation of fires in the concession area of oil palm plantation companies. 80% of the concession area is on deep peat)

The years 2015 to 2019 were too bitter to forget, suffering for the people of West Kalimantan, especially the City of Pontianak because they were surrounded by smoke from forest/peatland clearing by burning, which was indicated by palm oil and acacia plantation companies (HTI). Many people become victims of the smoke which is then forgotten when the rain comes and durians are scattered in the market. Until now, disaster mitigation has not discussed the health of the people affected by forest and peatland fires. So, it can be said that the state/government is negligent in their public health rights, especially companies that are indicated and accused of being the perpetrators of forest and peatland burning. As the smoke disappears, replaces with planted commodity trees, and the reporting process as the perpetrator of land burning is still far from over, then the social responsibility and fulfillment of the rights of the victimized community are lost or forgotten by companies and the government.

We are quite happy because this 2021, the smog is reduced and it can be said that there are no forest and land fires that cause smoke to surround the city. This is because of the pandemic and also the weather anomaly where March to July should be the summer season with fires until August. However, this does not mean that land clearing by burning does not occur. For example, what happened in Kubu Raya Regency, what is interesting is that land clearing by burning is done early in the year, and quite a lot of land is burned. In February there were peatland fires which indicated that they were in the company’s IUP and HGU, the fires covering an area of ​​±3,815.72 ha, can be seen in the map above. But we don’t get information from the government through the media and direct information, in this case, the Disaster Management Agency and related agencies, what kind of fire case is this, is it continued by the government to law enforcement or is it left alone with the excuse of focusing on the Covid-19 pandemic?

Covid 19 Climate Change and Palm Oil Moratorium Policy

The reduction in forest and peatland fires can be said to be due to the COVID-19 pandemic (due to activity restrictions), then the intensity of rain is quite high so that some areas of peatland are submerged by water and even floods occur. In addition, land clearing for plantations in peat concessions is not massive, but in mineral soil areas, deforestation still occurs. High appreciation for the hard work of the provincial and district governments, in pressuring companies not to clear land by burning. This hard work is of course based on the Presidential Instruction No. 8 of 2018 as well as the Regional Regulation of West Kalimantan Province No. 6 of 2018 as well as the hard work of the Governor of West Kalimantan and his staff, who gave warnings and sanctions to companies that were indicted and accused of clearing land by burning, firmness This can be seen when forest and land and peat fires occurred in 2019.

In difficult conditions due to the pandemic, there are still evil ways of clearing land by burning, in Pontianak City in March, 41 hectares of peatland were burned to build housing. The map above also shows how companies are still clearing land by burning. A beautiful nostalgia for clearing land and forests for plantation companies by burning from 1999 to 2021.


  1. The Presidential Instruction on the moratorium on Palm Oil Plantations No. 8 of 2018 must be extended again until 2024, there are successes but there are still shortcomings in implementing and implementing it. The regional authority, in this case, the province, is to ensure that the Regent can carry out the Inpres Moratorium properly, then monitor and evaluate existing companies in an open, honest, and participatory manner.
  2. Collaborate with communities and stakeholders who focus on social and environmental issues in oil palm plantations. This involvement is important to ensure the establishment of transparency in problem-solving and the resulting resolutions provide benefits to the community, the environment, companies, and the government.
  3. Again, asking companies to carry out their commitments that have been stated in their sustainability rules and policies consistently and transparently, not just on paper or mere words in the media and defense forums.
  4. The company must be responsible for restoring the health of the people who are victims of smoke due to land clearing by burning from 1999 to 2021 which results in losses to public health and the economy. As well as being responsible for improving the social and environmental conditions of indigenous/local communities.
  5. Increase the income of plasma partner farmers (nucleus-plasma scheme) must be above IDR 2,000,000 and provide health insurance for the condition of oil palm plantation workers who continue to work in production in the midst of a pandemic without any vaccines given by the company.
  6. Finally, the government in mitigating climate change must also mitigate public health and then move on to adaptation efforts. Because adaptation can only be done if ecosystem improvements have been carried out, one of which is strengthening the existing Presidential Instructions.


Agus Sutomo


Bahasa Indonesia

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