Professor of IPB University Discusses Global Ecological Change Issues

One important issue that is always discussed by world leaders in the COP (Conference of the Parties) on global ecological change is LULUCF (land use, land-use change and forestry). According to Prof. Arya Hadi Darmawan, the LULUCF concept has an important contribution to global climate change. Namely through its contribution to carbon emissions, green-house gases in the atmosphere and its ability to encourage changes in regional terrestrial ecosystems.

In the Permanent Professor's Scientific Oration that was held last week, Prof. Arya said that the classic problems of old or land use competition are land use change, land degradation and deforestation. As long as we need to eat, the process of deforestation and land degradation in all corners of the earth will be inevitable.

"The area of deforestation in the world and Indonesia shows a number that still brings serious concern and attention," said this IPB University Lecturer from the Faculty of Human Ecology (Fema).
According to him, this is because the area of land conversion and deforestation is followed by annual forest expansion, which is not yet adequate in scope. Especially when compared to the speed of expansion of plantation areas such as oil palm which causes changes in the structure of an area or landscape.

"Our study in East Kalimantan shows that the area changes driven by the expansion of oil palm plantations are significant, marked by a reduction in the forested area," he said.

He added that there are two expansion patterns that involve different dominant actors in the process of regional change. The first type is spotted expansion which is mostly done by smallholders with their own strength.
Meanwhile, he continued, the second type is concentrated expansion which is carried out by two actors who are directly or indirectly related, namely smallholders and large scale companies.

"Each expansion pattern results in changes in the organization and social relations of production, farmer household livelihood systems, to the socio-demographic configuration of the population in the typical surrounding villages," he added.

According to him, oil palm plantation activities are a driving factor for the transformation of the livelihood structure in rural areas. This can be seen from the variety of sources, from a high dependence on forests (natural resource extraction) and/or food crops, to new cash-based income sources (including services, industry and trade).

“The expansion of oil palm plantations also encourages changes in gender relations in rural areas. According to Julia and White, it was found that the large-scale expansion of oil palm plantations provided an attractive regular cash income for rural households. But at the same time it eliminates resource control and autonomy. Another consequence is the increasing workload for women,” he explained.

He added that plantation expansion that triggered regional changes also presented the problem of overlapping land tenure for oil palm plantations. This further deepens the economic versus ecological conflict in Indonesia.

“To overcome this, the government issued Presidential Regulation No. 44/2020 on a sustainable palm oil certification system with a governance instrument called the Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) certificate. However, its implementation still faces a number of problems. Especially related to the complexity of the challenges faced by the multi-level governance system from the central, provincial, district to village directions," he said.

Prof. Arya added that these internal constraints encourage the phenomenon of decoupling between policy and practice. In addition, there are external factors, where the international market responded negatively to the good intentions of the Indonesian government and all related parties who are struggling to improve the status of palm oil plantations in the country.

“Foreign countries, especially Europe (European Union) are still not satisfied, especially from the fulfillment of sustainability standards. They still question about High Conservation Value, large-scale monoculture farming patterns, and land conflicts due to overlapping claims with indigenous peoples. So far, the political ecological tension between the European Union and Indonesia remains high,” he said.

Meanwhile, he continued, Indonesia endured political and legal resistance as well as claims about trade protection and discrimination.
“So far, political tensions remain high and the political economy of oil palm relations between the two regions is not simple and is still full of challenges. In the future, Indonesia and the European Union are encouraged to develop a political dialogue rather than a politics of resistance between the two regions," he concluded. (Zul)

Published Date : 23-Nov-2021

Resource Person : Prof Arya Hadi Darmawan

Keyword : Palm Oil. Ecology, Deforestation, IPB University, Professor, Fema