Indonesia says 200,000 hectares of palm plantations to be made forests

Indonesia, the world’s biggest palm oil producer and exporter, issued rules in 2020 to sort out the legality of plantations operating in areas that are supposed to be forests, aimed at fixing governance in the sector.

Officials said the measures were necessary as some companies have already been tending the land for years, although green groups have attacked the government for forgiving past forest encroachment. Companies have to submit paperwork and pay fines to obtain cultivating rights on their plantation by Nov. 2, 2023, according to the rules.

While 3.3 million hectares (8.1 million acres) of the country’s nearly 17 million hectares of palm plantation have been found in forests, only owners of plantations with a combined size of 1.67 million hectares have been identified, forestry ministry secretary general Bambang Hendroyono told reporters.

The government is still cataloguing which of those are found in designated production forests, meaning owners will have to pay fines but they can continue to grow palm trees, and which are in protected areas and must be returned to the state, he said.”The ones in protected forests and conservation forests, the government wants to restore after they pay the fine,” Bambang said, adding this will be part of the government’s efforts to mitigate climate change.

Last year it started an industry-wide audit, followed by this year’s launch of a task force aimed at ensuring companies pay the right taxes.Carbon offset developer South Pole has terminated its involvement in a project in Zimbabwe which has generated millions of carbon credits from efforts to prevent deforestation around Lake Kariba, the Swiss firm said on Friday.

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