Palm Oil to blame for 39% of forest loss in Borneo since 2000

Amitav Rath

Amitav Rath

Indonesia and Malaysia produce about 85% of the world’s palm oil, which is used in everything from soaps, lipstick to pizza and biodiesel. Palm oil is putting one of the main sources of growth of Indonesia at risk: the rainforest in Borneo.

As in many tropical areas around the world, Borneo’s rainforests are being cut and degraded for timber, palm oil, pulp, rubber and minerals. Logging, land-clearing and conversion activities are considered to be the greatest threats to the Heart of Borneo. Of particular concern is the conversion of natural forests into palm oil and timber plantations.

Some palm oil farmers have been accused of using slash-and-burn methods to clear land for planting. The palm oil industry has long been blamed for encroaching on rain forests in Borneo, endangering wildlife such as orangutans and pygmy elephants.

Oil palm clearing grounds in Borneo

Oil palm and rainforest fraction in Borneo

Pygmy elephants in East Kalimantan

Orangutan from Kalimantan in Borneo

Indonesia and Malaysia, lost 6.3 million hectares (15 million acres) of forest cover between 2000 and 2018, the data from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), shows.

To respond to this challenge, OIKO supported the Ministry of Research and Technology of Indonesia with an assessment of sustainable and renewable energies potential (palm oil and timber byproducts as biomass) in East Kalimantan with the objective of creating an increasing renewable energy industry competitiveness for the sustainable economic development in Indonesia.

  • To develop a strategy for renewable energies and help set the priorities of the Ministry of State for Research & Technology.
  • Provide guidelines for energy efficient techniques trough integration of technologies and efficient energy planning, focused on finding optimized solutions to facilitate renewable and alternative access, such as biomass for combined heat and power production and development of sustainable biofuels.
  • Set foundations for the establishment of a Center for Excellence on Renewable Energies in West Kalimantan.

We use Earth Science technology to improve the quality of life in our world, especially the economic livelihood opportunities of the world's most vulnerable populations and the sustainable use of the natural resources of our planet. Our work is divided in six main program areas- Climate Adaptation, Climate Mitigation, Ecosystems, Natural Resources, Poverty & Livelihoods and Climate Services.