Does Palm Oil Damage the Environment?

Does Palm Oil Damage the Environment?

InfoSAWIT, JAKARTA – It is always accused that palm oil contributes to the illegal logging and forest damages. Based on the studies, palm oil planted in the forest production covers 3% only of the total available plantations. The rests are planted in the abandoned areas for about 43%, in the degraded areas for about 27%, in the agriculture areas for about 14%, and in the industrial plantation forests for about 13%.

Referring to Indonesian Palm Oil Association (IPOA), the numbers of the areas are not the same with the claim saying that palm oil is the major factor of deforestation and change the forest to be non-forest.

Not only that, palm oil is said to contribute to the global warming. The fact is that the biggest contributor to increase the green-house gas (GHG) effect is the energy consumption. The agricultural factors take part only 14 percent from the GHG.

Indonesia produced GHG in small numbers if compared to 10 main C02 contributors in the world, such as, China, the United States of America, India, Russia, Japan, Iran, German, Canada, South Korea, and England (more than 500 million tons/year in each country). Indonesia just produced 2,7% of GHG.

As the plantation, palm oil produces CO2 as the result of respiration. Based on the research of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2011-2014, it was revealed that palm oil produced 3,6 tons CO2 per hectare (ha), but could absorb CO2 until 13,7 tons per ha. It means, there are 10 tons per ha of range to absorb CO2. It also means that palm oil is the good emission absorber of CO2, not as the emitter.

The other accusation is that it absorbs much water and it is not environmental to the ecosystem in it. General Director of Plantation, Ministry of Agriculture, Bambang mentioned that palm oil helps to the forestation of the logging in Indonesia. IPOA thought that by the roots, palm oil could absorb water fast to be re-evaporated (to the air).

Palm oil in Indonesia gives the significant impact to the economy, such as, Rp 239,4 billion of the total gross domestic product of Indonesia in 2016, and the plantation sector contributed for about Rp 411 billion.

It provides employment too. At least, there are 82 million on – farm workers, not include the off-farm. Palm oil also produces the vegetable energy when the fossil energy gets decreasing.

It is hoped that European Union and the people really understand more what the environment damages mean as the accusation. The brief facts, at least, could give the description that palm oil does not damage just as it is accused. (Rizky Fitria Hartuti/Majoring Agri-business, 2017, Universitas Padjadjaran)


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