An area deforested for a palm oil plantation in Central Kalimantan


© Reuters / Crack Palinggi

Indonesia is the biggest producer of raw palm oil in the world, but while profit from this trade is high, the cost that the land has to pay is even higher.
Indonesia’s tropical forest is suffering for the cultivation of oil palms. Deforestation has been practised for many years, as photos taken by Greenpeace between 2009 and 2011 clearly show.
Indonesia’s tropical forest is the third largest in the world, boasts amazing biodiversity and stores enormous quantities of carbon. Despite playing such a valuable role, it is still being sacrificed for the production of palm oil, for which demand is growing. A new survey carried out by Greenpeace in 2018 showed that the forest is still under attack despite conservation policies.
The problem is not just an environmental one: many of the indigenous peoples who live in the forest are being forcibly evicted or tricked into leaving their homes to permit the transformation of forest areas into plantations. The Indonesians who work for the palm oil industry are also underpaid, exploited and often forced to employ their own children who, instead of going to school, end up working for unimaginable hours. The same applies to pregnant women.
While some companies who use palm oil do offer better living conditions to their employees, many surveys have shown that this is not generally the case. If the targets set by the companies are not met, workers can be fined or obliged to work until they drop without adequate pay.

Stefania Bianco