Palm Oil in Indonesia: when expansion will stops?

Palm oil industry in Indonesia increased with significant number both related to areas that released for concessions and other follow up fact related to production and income generated from this sector. Since 2006 Indonesia became number one CPO exporter, more than Malaysia.Indonesia and Malaysia covered 83% oil palm production worldwide.


Increased oil palm in Indonesia driven by expansion from big private concessions and also policy in plantation in Indonesia mostly to increase areas not production. Areas increment mostly used as indicator for development of oil palm in Indonesia, some provinces targeted million of hectares oil palm concessions as program in plantation sector.

Based on data from Ministry of agrarian  that oil palm concessions areas  in Indonesia in 2015 about 11.4 million hectares, with half of them owned by profit companies.

Distribution of  oil palm concession in Indonesia shown below:


kebun indonesia

Oil palm sector is most dominated plantation sector in Indonesia, based on data from Ministry of Agriculture 2015 that oil palm covered 11.3 million hectares compared to others that only 3.6 million hectares  from rubber.

tabel-3-prod-lsareal-prodvitas-bun.jpgEast Kalimantan also increased related to oil palm concession, based on data 2014 from Dinas Perkebunan/East Kalimantan Agriculture Office that in 2014 about 1.02 million hectares.

kebun kaltim
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East Kalimantan targeted 1.6 million hectare oil palm plantation established in 2016 and about 1.8 million hectare for 2020. Compared to program from same office to maintain 650 hectares farming.

In East Kalimantan based on spatial planning there are total 3.3 million hectares allocated for plantation with majority allocated for oil palm. Meanwhile total permits in East Kalimantan about 2,8 million hectares in 2014 and based on newdata no more land available for oil palm.

Suitability Analysis; lack of implementation of spatial information

Several initiatives for sustainable palm oil start with recommendation for better sitting for oil palm.

WRI Potico project published suitability analysis for oil palm based on environment, economic, legal and social aspect. This project came with recommendation for suitable areas for oil palm in Indonesia.

WRI suitability maps_GFW
GFW Commodities; suitability analysis for oil palm

GFW commodities above provided analysis spatially with layers; conservation areas buffer, peat depth, water resource buffer, slope, elevation, rainfall, soil drainage, soil depth, soil acidity (pH).

For transmigration program in Indonesia in 1980’s a series of map produced within Reppprot Project with suitability analysis for several agriculture type including oil palm. Suitability from this only based on physical aspects and not other and need to combined with spatial planning regulation.

Oil Palm, Deforestation and GHG emissions

Several research such as Margono et all (2014) mentioned about deforestation in Indonesia that annually increased both for primary intact and degraded forest both in Forest Designation Areas or non Forest Designation Areas. Based on designated status that production forest on the top of list related to conversion.  Based on 2000-2012 Hansen data that total primary forest loss totalled 0.84 million hectares, and annually primary forest loss about 47,600 ha.Primary forest loss in production forest that about 27,000 ha.

Areas designated for oil palm concession in Indonesia still overlapped with current forest cover as shown below:

Overlay oil palm concessions and forested areas in Indonesia

Other research showing that primary forest and peat land land clearing probably not by small holders but by agro-industrial land developer. Larger development in  peat land are often accompanied by draining wetland and impacted on carbon emission beyond footprint of actual development.

One of example of oil palm concession in Wes Kalimantan, clearly that converted primary forest into palm oil.

Analysis that conducted in Berau, East Kalimantan showing that oil palm and deforestation very much related. Oil palm contribute 28% green house gas emissions (Griscom, et al 2015).

Oil palm plantation in Berau, East Kalimantan, exactly located along Segah river with land cover primary to secondary forest.


Further Suitability Analysis: Legal Aspects and Voluntary Scheme

Two steps proposed for sustainable oil palm concession sitting, first by following legal aspects and second with following voluntary requirement.

Legal aspect analyze based on spatial planning regulation that allow oil palm expansion in APL (non forest use). Based on ISPO (Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil) regulation that oil palm could located in APL and production forest for conversion zone  (HPK). Detail spatial planning mentioned about preserve riparian, water source, tidal buffer areas.

Voluntary scheme ( ie. RSPO) required high conservation value (HCV) conducted before open oil palm plantation. Detail about HCV could accessed through HCV Resource Network. HCV covered environment, social and cultural aspects through six principle conducted through FPIC.


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