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Along with the increasing market demand of both global and national levels, efforts towards oil palm plantation management that ensure oil palm raw materials are produced through sustainable practices are continuously being implemented.
A certification scheme as a proof of sustainable practices implementation has also been developed, among others, by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and the Indonesian government under the Presidential Regulation 44/2020 on Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO). Both have a number of principles and criteria to encourage the management of oil palm production that verify the sustainability of high conservation value (HCV) areas.
So far, there are six recognized categories of HCV areas, namely those that have biodiversity resources (HCV 1-3), provide ecosystem services (HCV 4), and are important for meeting the social, economic, and cultural needs of local communities (HCV 5-6). ). The six HCVs need to be identified, managed appropriately, and monitored regularly to minimize the negative impacts of each production activity such as logging, plantations, and agriculture.
HCV protection is also one of the principles and criteria in the certification scheme for several commodities other than oil palm. For example, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) places the protection and management of HCVs in its principles and criteria as part of the consideration in the production forest management (Principle 9).
Similar initiatives were implemented by Bonsucro and the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) to reduce the impacts, including deforestation, of sugarcane and soybean production activities on HCV areas (Principle 4 Bonsucro and RTRS). However, all of these certification schemes merely cover a limited area within the concession area, thus the HCVs management has not yet provided optimal results.
In 2015, the RSPO developed a jurisdiction-based certification system, which is an initiative to apply the RSPO sustainability principles and criteria that have been applied at the plantation concession scale to government administrative areas such as districts or provinces. The jurisdictional approach drives the formation of alliances of various parties involved in the oil palm supply chain such as plantation companies, certification bodies, civil society organizations, independent smallholders, indigenous peoples, and government institutions – which have the authorities to formulate and implement regulations, hence, they are key actors – to collectively oversee the process towards certification at the jurisdictional level.
The aim is to ensure that all oil palm fresh fruit bunches produced in a jurisdiction comply with sustainability principles, including the protection and management of HCVs so that they can reach a wider market while providing greater benefits. In Indonesia, the jurisdictional approach has been implemented in the Districts of Seruyan and West Kotawaringin, Central Kalimantan.
In the jurisdictional approach, HCV identification is also implemented at the district level. There are several methods that can be used to identify HCVs, including through the Environmental Carrying Capacity (DDDTLH) assessment, which is a government instrument and has been mandated in Law No.32/2009 on Environmental Protection and Management. Therefore, it must be implemented by the government, both at the central and regional levels.
In principle, DDDTLH is a measuring tool to determine the extent to which the environmental capacity in an area is able to support development that minimizes environmental impacts to preserve environmental functions and public safety. DDDTLH is also one of the contents of the study that underlies the formulation of regional development plans, including the Environmental Protection and Management Plan (RPPLH), Regional Spatial Planning (RTRW), and Regional Medium-Term Development Plan (RPJMD). Thus, DDDTLH has the assurance of implementation in local government programs and budgeting.
Since 2018, Districts of Seruyan and West Kotawaringin have conducted ecosystem service-based DDDTLH assessments using data and guidelines sourced from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF). This guide provides steps for assessing ecosystem services adjusted to the development priorities of the two districts, which include water supply, food supply, water regulation, water purification, flood mitigation, landslide mitigation, and fire mitigation.
The output of the DDDTLH assessment is an ecosystem service index that describes the environment’s ability to provide various benefits to support sustainable development. The spatial analysis results also show that the remaining forest cover has been fragmented into hundreds of plots measuring less than 1 hectare to more than 300 thousand hectares.
Large parcels of forest, including those within Tanjung Puting National Park and the Lamandau Wildlife Sanctuary, are home to a number of endangered animals such as orangutans, proboscis monkeys, sun bears, clouded leopards, and several types of hornbill. In addition, the analysis of landscape data resulted in a classification of ecosystems, including rare and endangered ecosystems such as primary lowland forest and peat swamp.
The maps developed from the DDDTLH assessment show locations in the two districts that meet the criteria for HCV 1–6, with a total area of 1,206,100 hectares respectively in Seruyan and 729,940 ha in West Kotawaringin, both equivalent to more than 70% of their respective district areas. Of those areas, 156,078 hectares in Seruyan is an area that already has legislated provisions for a protected function, namely protected forest and Tanjung Puting National Park. Likewise in West Kotawaringin, protected forest, Tanjung Puting National Park, and Lamandau Wildlife Reserve cover a total area of 283,366 hectares. The remaining, respectively 1,049,932 hectares in Seruyan and 446,574 hectares in West Kotawaringin, are located in other forest areas and other purposes areas (APL).
Natural Resources Sustainability
In the context of spatial planning, high conservation value areas that are outside the protected area need to be considered for their spatial designation in the spatial planning (RTRW) of the two districts. Furthermore, it is necessary to further study if the management of HCV areas can be regulated in regulations at the regional level. There are three possibilities to answer this; first, the protection and management of HCVs can be integrated into the Environmental Protection and Management Plan (RPPLH) which will be taken into consideration in regional development planning (UU No.32/2009) to ensure the sustainability of natural resources (SDA) and all the benefits it provides to the community interest.
Second, by establishing HCV areas outside the Nature Conservation Area (KPA) and Nature Reserve Areas (KSA) as essential ecosystem areas (KEE) or Environment Strategic Areas (KSLH). KEE is regulated under Government Regulation (PP) No.28/2011 in conjunction with PP No.108/2015, which states that KEE is a part of efforts to protect KPA and KSA even though its scope is still within the forest area. In this case, the district government can propose areas with the presence of HCVs to become KEEs to the central government that has the authority to stipulate them.
If the HCV area is in the APL area, the Government Regulation on the Implementation of Spatial Planning (PP 15/2010) and the Guidelines for the Formulation of Provincial, District and City Spatial Planning (Regulation of Minister of Agrarian Affairs (ATR) No 1/2018) provide room for the district government to be able to designate the HCV area as KSLH. A third possibility is the establishment of a separate regional regulation (Perda) to describe the regulations for HCV management at the district level in more detail.
As a relatively new initiative, the jurisdictional approach opens up opportunities for biodiversity protection and sustainable management involving all parties in the oil palm supply chain. The initial steps have already been initiated and some challenges need to be anticipated as early as possible.
The recently formed Jurisdiction Certification Working Groups in both districts require capacity building in executing multi-stakeholder processes and developing joint strategies to meet sustainability principles and criteria. Facilities are also still limited, including a number of operational procedures and the availability of an important database to monitor practices that take into account environmental aspects in the production process.
A smallholder group at the district level also needs to be formed to support an easier certification process at a more economical cost for independent smallholders. From the implementation of the jurisdictional approach in Seruyan and West Kotawaringin, other regions in Indonesia may take lessons learned and apply them in contexts suitable for their conditions in their respective regions.
On a national scale, this approach may offer a solution to meet government policy targets related to renewable energy that have been initiated since early 2020. On the other hand, management practices which consider the protection of biodiversity and ecosystems at the jurisdictional level, can be used to convince global markets that oil palm management in Indonesia is able to meet sustainability criteria.
*Michael Padmanaba (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This article has been published on Media Indonesia and can be seen at the following link: https://m.mediaindonesia.com/opini/406652/pendekatan-yurisdiksi-dan-perlindungan-wilayah-konservasi