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Protected areas & biofuel plantations - Indonesia [#59]
As we report in 'The Last Stand of the Orangutan' (

In Indonesia, oil palms tend to be planted on newly-cleared forest land, rather than abandoned agricultural land. As the palms do not begin to produce a crop for five years after the area is planted, the ability to sell the timber to subsidize these first  non-productive years is attractive.

Oil palm plantations developed around National Parks increase the pressure on the parks and their wildlife:

(i) Human – orangutan conflicts are reportedly widespread.  As forests are cleared for plantations, confused orangutans can be found wandering in the newly planted areas that used to form part of their range. An adult orangutan can be intimidating to humans, and also represents a source of meat, so it is common for them to be killed by plantation workers. With their habitat gone, hungry orangutans can turn their attention to the young palm trees, where they can cause considerable damage, thus exacerbating the conflict.

(ii) The expansion of oil palm plantations is thought to be a major driver of the Sept-Nov 2006 fire peak in Kalimantan, which is in turn is thought to have killed hundreds of orangutans.  In 2002 and 2004, Ministry of Forestry records show that more than 50% of all recorded burnt area was in conservation forest (mainly in national parks and nature reserves).
posted on 2007-02-13 10:08 UTC by Dr Lera Miles, UNEP-WCMC

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme