Deforestation for palm oil production in Riau, 2014. Photo by Rhett Butler.
Half of the oil palm plantations in Sumatra’s Riau Province are illegal, said Indonesia’s top forestry official.
Speaking to Antara News, Minister of Forestry Zulkifli Hasan said that two million of Riau’s four million hectares of Riau’s oil palm plantations lack permits.
“Only two million of the total four million hectares of oil palm plantation area have official permit for forest conversion,” Zulkifli was quoted as saying.
Four million hectares represents half the area set aside for plantations in Riau, a province that lost 85 percent of its primary forest cover between 1990 and 2010. Conversion of rainforests and peatlands for pulp and paper plantations is the other major driver of deforestation in Riau.
According to a study published earlier this year, oil palm expansion in Riau drove an average of 5.2 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year between 2000 and 2012.
Clearing for oil palm plantations is presently the single largest direct driver of deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia. Palm oil, which is used widely as a cooking oil across Asia and Africa, is found in a variety of processed foods, soaps, and cosmetics. It is also increasingly used for biodiesel, although the biofuel market currently represents only a tiny fraction of consumption.
Riau’s land use allocation, according to comments made by Minister of Forestry Zulkifli Hasan in August 2014.
Annual forest loss in Riau according to research led by Matt Hansen. Background: Illegal forest clearing for an oil palm plantation in Riau in 2014. Photo by Rhett Butler.