Pontianak – West Kalimantan (Kalbar) Provincial Government’s Plantation Service Head Heronimus Hero said that the oil palm companies play a strategic role in preventing the forest and land fires (Karhutla) as more than half of the land areas for other purposes, commonly known as APL, are planted with the top commodity.
“Kalbar has around 6.3 million hectares of APL and 52 percent are used for oil palm plantations. So, that’s the reason why oil palm plantations play the strategic role to prevent and extinguish the Karhutla,” he said in Pontianak recently.
Hero pointed out that the oil palm plantations have enough resources and well organized in preventing the Karhutla.
“At least they can prevent the Karhutla in their respective plantation areas. But they can also do so outside their plantation areas through a partnership with the local people,” he said.
According to him, the majority of oil plantation areas in Kalbar are located on peat lands. The peat lands are highly potential to catch fire and once on fire they will be hard to extinguish.
“Such condition should get a serious attention from the oil palm companies. The government is continually monitoring and ensuring that all oil palm companies will pay serious attention to this environmental issue. There is no choice for oil palm companies but to comply with all prevailing regulations,” he said.
He asserted that the high economic value of palm oil should never be wasted for extinguishing the Karhutla. It is better for the oil palm companies to focus on prevention which is cheaper, rather than extinguishing the Karhutla which is certainly more expensive and has big impact to the society.
He said that they will be continually monitoring the facilities to prevent the Karhutla in the oil palm plantation areas and regularly conduct coordination meeting to strengthen the synergy between the government and the oil palm companies.
“We’re grateful that as of August 2020 the fires in Kalbar are much less than those during last year. The total areas caught on fire this year amounted to around 2,500 hectares. There was no severe haze this year. We’re only dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. But the two calamities require us to do the same thing, namely use face masks,” he said.
According to him, currently the regents in Kalbar have issued licenses of 3.31 million hectares of lands for 347 companies in the province. “CPO production in Kalbar reaches 4.02 million tons per year. Total money circulation related to palm oil in Kalbar reaches more than Rp70 trillion per year. That means the palm oil industry plays a very important role in Kalbar province, as the industry contributes 12 percent of the total gross regional domestic product in the province,” he said. (*)