Indonesia Is Making Efforts to Stop Forest Fires
Joko Widodo, president of Indonesia, has suggested a standstill of granting new land to palm oil companies in an effort to reduce damaging forest fires, which, in the past year, have been the worst the country has ever seen.
As the demand for palm oil has escalated exponentially in the last years, the number of plantations has increased massively on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo in order to meet the demand.
The industry’s fast growth and illegal slash-and-burn clearances are blamed for causing destructive effects over tropical and ancient forests, home to many endangered species.
President Widodo proposed selecting superior seeds in order to increase the yields. “Palm oil concessions available at the moment are already adequate,” he said in a statement.
In response to Widodo’s proposal of banning new land, the Palm Oil Association warned it could harm the economy and its position as the top producer of edible oil in the world.
Supporting 24 million jobs and contributing $19 billion solely in exports during 2015 are two facts that make this industry a very important part in South East Asian country’s economy.
“It contributes to economic growth, especially in remote areas,” said Tofan Madji, spokesman of the group comprised of 650 companies.
Greenpeace Indonesian activists have also expressed their concerns. Even though they support the proposal, skepticism reigns, believing that only strict and strong regulations will halt the raging fires.
“This is probably one of the hardest parts – lack of coordination among officials is common and it often leads to bad implementation of regulations,” said Kiki Taufik, Greenpeace Indonesia forest campaigner.
Some believe the fires will never be controlled as long as greed exists and there is a chance to make quick money.