Peatlands play an important role to prevent climate change. Over the past 10,000 years, peatlands have absorbed an estimated 1.2 trillion tonnes of carbon dioxide, having a net cooling effect on the earth. Peatlands are now the world’s largest terrestrial long-term sink of atmospheric carbon-storing twice as much carbon as the biomass of the world’s forests. (Parish et al., 2008). Predictions by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) in 2020 of significant changes in global temperature and rainfall regimes have significant implications for peatland ecosystems. In many cases, the predicted changes are expected to harm peatlands and exacerbate the rate of degradation and release of stored carbon.
Peatlands cover 3% of the world’s total land area, but peat soils store 550 Gigatonnes of carbon or the equivalent of 30% of soil carbon, 75% of the carbon of the entire atmosphere, and the equivalent of twice the carbon storage of all forests worldwide (Joosten H. et al. al., 2008). Human exploitation has destroyed nearly 25% of the mud on Earth: of this destruction, 50% is agriculture, 30% forestry, 10% peat extraction, and 10% infrastructure development (Parish et al., 2008). One of the largest agricultural activities developing on peatlands in Indonesia is the establishment of oil palm plantations. Simultaneously replacing other forms of productive land use.
The development of oil palm has a positive impact on economic growth as indicated by growth in investment, output, and foreign exchange. Indonesia itself is the largest producer and consumer of palm oil in the world. However, in addition to obtaining economic benefits, the expansion of oil palm plantations has resulted in the emergence of several environmental problems. Farmers cut down rainforests that are hundreds of years old, to clear land for oil palm.
For example, what happened in the forests of Papua. Papua is the largest island in Indonesia with a permanent forest area of 31,773,063 ha. However, as much as 173.687 hectares of tropical rainforest there have been converted as oil palm land (Directorate General of Estate, 2020). Not only in Papua, several other large islands such as Kalimantan and Sumatra are also affected by this oil palm expansion. Of concern is the fact that in almost all cases, all forms of agriculture and plantation forestry follow forest degradation, which presumably is initiated by logging and aggravated by wildfire. The effect of the expansion of oil palm plantations can increase carbon emissions and climate change so that it can disrupt environmental conditions (Chelsea, Julia, and Searle, 2016)
Papua has the largest peatland area in Indonesia, which is 7 million ha, followed by the islands of Kalimantan and Sumatra (BB R & D SDLP, 2008). So you can imagine how much carbon emissions are caused by burning forests for this purposeful industrial development. Emissions from peat oxidation represent 48% of total emissions (Agus et al., 2017). However, additional emissions from existing plantations operating on peatlands have dominated the global emissions profile.
Damaged peatlands contribute about 10% of greenhouse gas emissions from the land-use sector. CO2 emissions from drained peatlands are estimated at 1.3 gigatonnes of CO2 annually. This is equivalent to 5.6% of global anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Fires in Indonesian peat swamp forests in 2015, for example, emitted nearly 16 million tonnes of CO2 a day. This is more than the daily emissions from the entire US economy (IUCN, .2017). The Source of CO2 largest Indonesia comes from (Agus et al., 2017):
Based on a study conducted by the University of Gottingen by Sabajo et al. (2017), found the oil industry triggers an increase in the surface temperature of the soil. Based on scientists’ observations between 2000 and 2015 in the city of Jambi, forest conversion made the average surface temperature increase by 1.05 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile, when compared to the ground surface temperature in forest locations, it only increased by 0.45 degrees Celsius. This shows that at least 0.6 degrees Celsius of the 1.05 degrees Celsius increase is due to land-use change. As a result, the soil surface will absorb solar radiation and molt faster. Soil surface temperature is an important part of the microclimate in the area that affects the habitability conditions for plants and animals (Sabajo et al., 2017). This can lead to water scarcity in the dry season and impact biodiversity.
In 2017 the European Union passed a resolution on palm oil and deforestation of the rainforest. The ultimate goal is to ban imports of palm oil that are not compatible with sustainable development and its derivative products by 2020 to the European Union (Mark et al. 2018). This periodic forest burning has a significant global effect, which increases greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. In addition, environmental impacts can also come from waste from the palm oil industry for its processed products. Currently, the FSC (boardForest Management Certification) is said to continue to work with the palm oil industry managers to jointly reduce land clearing and take environmental conservation countermeasures.
So, what do you guys think about the palm oil industry?
Written by: Kurnia Wardhani M.J