Palm oil is the main commodity of plantations in Indonesia which is currently the main source of vegetable oil in the world. The rapid progress of the palm oil industry in Indonesia has both positive and negative impacts.
The positive impact is of course increasing the Indonesian economy, where the economic value of palm oil is high and competitive. The presence of this industry supports people’s lives, improves people’s welfare and creates jobs.
But in the midst of its significant role in terms of the economy and people’s welfare, this industry has considerable challenges, especially regarding environmental issues.
The expansion of oil palm lands eventually resulted in the conversion of forest lands, particularly peatlands. This can result in land damage or degradation, where this land gradually decreases its productivity.
Burning land when deforestation is carried out can also result in increased carbon emissions. This has an impact on increasing the greenhouse gas effect. Then it results in global warming.
Negative Impacts of Oil Palm Plantations on the Environment
For a more complete understanding, below are the negative impacts arising from the activities of oil palm plantation companies on the environment.
- Soil Erosion
When forests are cut down, the land loses vegetation that can protect it and makes it lose stability. Tree roots themselves can function as soil grippers. If the felling of trees is carried out, of course it disturbs the soil surface which can result in erosion.
If left continuously, the soil will be damaged and landslides can occur at any time. The soil will become less fertile, brittle, lose nutrients and barren. If the soil is swept into the water flow, it will cause silting of the river and sedimentation.
In addition, erosion can also result in the destruction of aquatic habitats and affect the ecosystems in the waters.
- Forest Damage
In making land for oil palm plantations, not a few forests are cut down, even logging is also carried out illegally. There is also talk that the oil palm plantation will be expanded to 26 hectares in 2025.
Whereas deforestation has the potential to cause emissions and greenhouse gases. This will be worse if there is a forest fire. Forests that are burned have the potential to release harmful gases that can affect human health and damage the ozone layer.
- Threatening Forest Ecosystems
Forest fires seriously threaten the forest ecosystem, including the animals in it. Deforestation causes animals to lose their habitat, get injured and even result in death.
In Indonesia, animals that are threatened when clearing land for oil palm include Sumatran tigers, orangutans, leopards, rhinos and others.
In addition, logging the forest will also place animals as targets for hunting. Roads built provide easy access for poachers to kill the animals or sell them on the illegal market. So do not be surprised if the population of Indonesia’s endemic animals is decreasing.
- Result in Carbon Dioxide Emissions
Forest burning is one of the easiest, quickest and cheapest methods to clear land for oil palm plantations. Whereas burning forests can release carbon dioxide gas emissions and make it float up to the atmosphere.
- Resulting in Water Pollution
Soil erosion due to land clearing for oil palm can also threaten aquatic ecosystems. The use of chemicals and pesticides for oil palm can be carried by rainwater to rivers. Well, even though chemicals can damage the pH of the river which makes the water contaminated.
It can also put very sensitive animals at risk, as the chemicals can poison them.
Furthermore, river water will become cloudy, contain waste and brown. This is of course dangerous if the river flows to residential areas and then consumed, of course it is dangerous for health.
- Combustion Smoke is Dangerous to Health
The smoke produced from burning forests is very dangerous for health. This is because it has the potential to cause asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis and chronic lung disease. Apart from that, you will also find it difficult to breathe, eye irritation, throat irritation to headaches. In fact, not a few who experience ISPA to the point of death.
That is information about the influence of the oil palm business on the environment. Not only for the environment, but also for human health and the ecosystem in it.