West Kalimantan Province Prepares Data Inventory of Conservation Areas in Palm Oil Management Units

West Kalimantan Province Prepares Data Inventory of Conservation Areas in Palm Oil Management Units

Indonesia - 21 April, 2023

A circular letter sent by West Kalimantan Plantation and Livestock Agency (Distanakbun) to companies which run land-based businesses, specifically oil palm plantations in request to report on allocated conservation (High Conservation Value/HCV) areas in their concession areas. The conservation areas in question are areas with high conservation values that support economic, social, cultural, religious, and customary needs of the community. Apart from having extraordinary and important values in the context of ecology, socioeconomics and culture, this area needs to also have significance for the preservation of biodiversity.

The report needs to be submitted by the third week of March 2023 to be compiled as the government's data inventory. The Distanakbun distributed the letter to 363 companies in West Kalimantan Province. This circular letter initiative is an implementation based on the West Kalimantan Provincial regulation No.6/2018 about sustainable land-based business management. Which dictates forestry, plantation, mining, and agriculture land-based businesses to allocate at least 7% of their concession permit areas as HCV areas (HCVA). The latest update on April 19th from Distanakbun staff informed that currently there are only 40 out of 363 palm oil companies in West Kalimantan who have submitted their HCVA data. Follow up efforts to collect HCVA data still need to continue to be done by related government agencies.

The issuance of the circular letter was influenced by a HCVA Identification Training for District Plantation Agencies in West Kalimantan Province conducted on November 9th – 10th 2022. Lobby and advocacy with West Kalimantan Province Plantation Agency about the importance of HCVA mainstreaming on December 22nd 2022 also trigger the letter’s issuance. The two events were initiated by Distanakbun, West Kalimantan Environment and Forestry Agency (DLHK), GIZ SASCI+ and Tropenbos Indonesia. At these two events, it was concluded that currently, there is no effective regulatory framework for HCVA monitoring and evaluation in West Kalimantan Province. Thus, steps towards monitoring and evaluation needed to be initiated, and the circular letter issued was one of its milestones.

December 22nd, 2022 HCVA Monitoring and Evaluation (MonEv) mainstreaming discussion.jpeg

Picture 1. Lobby and Advocacy to Distanakbun on December 22nd, 2022, about the Importance of HCVA Monitoring and Evaluation in Large Scale Oil Palm Plantations

The importance of HCVAs protection are efforts to prevent and limit environmental degradations, both by human actions and by natural influences. These areas need to be managed to optimize planning, utilization, protection as well as restoration if damages in conservation areas have occurred. This needs to be done by both the government and business actors so its implementation can take place optimally and sustainably, to prevent massive floods, and forest fire, as these are frequent cases that caused tremendous loss in West Kalimantan Province.

Looking at the proportion of conservation areas within palm oil management units (MUs), “at least 7%” is considered too inadequate and often unfunctional as conservation areas within an oil-palm plantation MU, as the business sector tends to select the minimum (least) areas. To make the extraordinarily little area proportion meaningful and functional as conservation areas, the HCVA position should be well selected within the concession areas. HCVA positioning intended only to fulfill numerical requirements without considering conservation and wildlife importance should be corrected.

Considerations such as proper protection of forested areas located at steep-slopes to reduce erosion and sedimentation, forest watershed area, and wildlife corridor should be considered to protect biodiversity, environmental services, and water source. The protection of remaining forested areas that function as wildlife corridors to connect state-protected forest areas surrounding large scale oil palm plantations should be identified with an academic consideration. This academic aspect can be strongly enforced by including NGOs in the formulation and implementation phases of this regulation. In many other cases, not just within West Kalimantan, these conservation areas are also often crucial as a source of sustainable livelihoods and religious sites used by indigenous communities for their daily activities.

To make the above considerations adapted through Province Regulation No. 6/2018, the regulation will need technical derivative regulations. For that reasons, since June 2022, a working group consisted of Kalimantan Forest/Kalfor (an UNDP program which is co-operated by the Indonesia Ministry of Environment and Forestry/MoEF), together with Tropenbos Indonesia have been facilitating relevant agencies led by DLHK to review existing four derivative regulations of the Provincial Regulation No. 6/2018 to adopt technical aspect on identification HCVA at MU level. In addition, the working group planned to unite all four1 derivative regulations to a concise one improved technical regulation. The technical regulation has now been scrutinized by the Law Agency of West Kalimantan Province and will be issued by the government by mid of 2023.

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Picture 2. Forested Areas within Oil Palm Plantations in Ketapang Data collected by Kalfor in 2021.

HCVA in Large Scale Oil Palm Plantation Data Request Circular Letter Issued by Distanakbun

The four Governor Regulations that are now combined to be one Governor Regulation about Technical Guidelines for Implementation of Provincial Regulation Number 6/2018 are the following:

  1. Governor Regulation No. 6/2019 about Procedures and Mechanisms for Conservation Area establishment in Sustainable Land-Based Businesses Management.
  2. Governor Regulation No. 115/2020 about Protection and Management of Conservation Areas.
  3. Governor Regulation No. 137/2020 about Community Participation in Monitoring Conservation Areas in Sustainable Land-Based Businesses Management.
  4. Governor Regulation No. 139/2020 about Administrative Punishments for Sustainable Land-Based Businesses Management.