Indonesia is the world’s third most forested country after the Democratic Republic of Congo and Brazil. Approximately one million hectares of land in Indonesia are deforested each year as a result of logging or forest fires, which are often set deliberately to clear land for palm oil plantations. The habitat of the country’s indigenous communities and the unique flora and fauna has not, however, been irrecoverably lost. 

Two-thirds of Indonesia’s 94 million hectares of rain forest are found in Papua and Kalimantan. Papua is home to a wealth of flora and fauna including endangered orchids, birds of paradise and tree-kangaroos. The habitats of orangutans, Borneo pygmy elephants and rhinos are under threat in Kalimantan.

The Constitutional Court in Indonesia ruled in 2013 that the state no longer has jurisdiction in the indigenous communities’ territories. This means they have the right to manage the forests in a sustainable manner. The government has passed laws in recent years that could have major benefits providing there is compliance. The government has, for example, stipulated that companies may be prosecuted should a forest fire break out in their concession, even if they claim not to have set it. 

IUCN NL has over the past 20 years developed an excellent network with local partner organisations. Our local partners lobby the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry against further expansion of plantations and for making existing plantations more sustainable. 

Our partner organisations hold roundtable discussions with companies to discuss potential ways of making palm oil production more sustainable: the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). IUCN NL lobbies in Brussels for a more sustainable palm oil policy in Europe. The Dutch government now supports this initiative. 

The scope within which organisations can operate is narrowing due in part to the rise of extreme Islam. Measures aimed at tackling terrorists are also impacting NGOs. 

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