|Managing and Conserving Biodiversity|
The sustainability of oil palm plantation is affected by the environmental support. The ecosystem balance and stability is an important element which determines the availability of environmental support needed for the sustainability of any oil palm plantation business. Biodiversity, species richness, and species composition are a determinant of the balance and stability in an ecosystem because every species has its own function or benefit. The Company has an interest in the ecosystem to support the oil palm cultivation and, therefore, pays serious attention in managing and conserving the biodiversity. The biodiversity management and conservation refers to the government’s applicable policies. [G4-EN12]
The oil palm plantation managed by the Company is entirely outside any protected area and outside any high-biodiversity area. The Company develops a good strategy in biodiversity management and conservation in protected areas within the HGU concession area which includes activities: protection, preservation, and sustainable utilization. [G4-EN11]
The Company implemented five stages in the biodiversity management, namely: (1) Identification of biodiversity status; (2) Spatial planning of protected areas; (3) Development of instruments and infrastructure; (4) Management of species and habitats; (5) Education on conservation and participation of the surrounding communities.
The Company implemented best practices and conducted research on the bio-ecology of species prioritized to conserve, functional diversity of species, and restoration impacts on biodiversity. The species prioritized to conserve is any species decided as an icon or an umbrella species in a protected area within the Company’s plantation. The decision on any conservation priority species is based on criteria of the protection status (Government Regulation, CITES, and Redlist of International Union for the Conservation of Nature/IUCN) and its role in the ecosystem. [G4-EN13]
In 2015, the Company’s conservation-related researchÂÂÂ activities were focused on 3 (three) aspects, namely: (1) Study on population size, distribution, and conservation of hornbills (Bucerotidae); (2) Study on potential insect-eating bird communities which may be used in the biological pest control in the oil palm plantation area (in cooperation with the Faculty of Forestry, Bogor Agricultural University/IPB); (3) Study on restoration impacts on the diversity of herpetofauna species in the oil palm plantation landscape.
The biodiversity management until December 2015 was successful in protecting more than 557 flora species and 524 fauna species, including 84 mammalian species, 328 avian species, 65 reptilian species, and 51 amphibian species living in the protected areas within the Company’s oil palm plantation. All of these species are widespread in Sumatera, Kalimantan, and Sulawesi. As many as 60 species out of them are under the category of endangered species based on the red list of IUCN.
CONSERVING THE ECOSYSTEM
The Company seeks to improve and restore ecological functions of the ecosystem by implementing a conservation program aimed at enhancing the environmental support to the oil palm plantation. In 2015, the Company continued to conserve essential ecosystems such as catchment areas (swamps, rivers), forests with high-value conservation, riparian ecosystems, and rare ecosystems. These ecosystems have a vital ecological function as habitat enclaves for numerous species because they constitute sources of life for various wildlife species.
Throughout 2015, the Company planted 52,132 seedlings of tree crops in the essential ecosystem areas by combining fast-growing trees such as burflower-tree (Neolamarckia cadamba), saman (Albizia saman), mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) and slower-growing trees such as Shorea and agarwood. Fast-growing trees are planted to quickly restore riparian ecosystem along the targeted river. Monitoring is done continuously to ensure that the planted crops stay alive. [G4-EN13]
The peatland is a wetland ecosystem which has been formed by accumulation of organic material on the forest floor that originated from the vegetation ruins above it for a long period of time (thousands of years). This accumulation occurred as a result of the slow pace of decomposition compared to the pace of organic material accumulation on the wet/inundated forest floor. Physically, the peatland is organosol or histosol soils which is in general constantly saturated or submerged throughout the year, unless it is drained. Indonesia has a tropical peatland covering about 14 million hectares. Peatlands play an important role as a life supporting system, a source of water, source of food, preserve the richness of biodiversity, and function as a global climate control.
Utilizing peatlands for farming has been done for a long time but peat is prone to degradation. Such peatland degradation can occur when the land is not managed properly. The concept of sustainable peatland management must be implemented by maximizing the productivity and minimizing the emission level.
The Company has an interest in managing peatlands in a sustainable manner in seeking to increase oil palm yields. One of important factors in the sustainable peatland management is the land and water management. In a natural condition, peatlands are constantly in a saturated (anerobic) condition while most crops need an aerobic condition. Therefore, the construction of drainage canals is needed to lower the groundwater surface and create an aerobic condition in the crop root zone and at the same time reduce the concentration of organic acids. However, the peat cannot be left too dry as it will damage and the fire will take place easily.
The groundwater control is a key to the sustainable peat management. The groundwater surface must be is maintained in such a way as to keep the crop rooting system moist, not inundated, but not dry. The groundwater surface is largely affected by rainfall. The high rain intensity can raise the groundwater surface making the oil palm plantation inundated and, on the contrary, the low rain intensity will lower the groundwater surface. The Company constructed a water control system to maintain the level of groundwater surface in order to make peatlands function well, avoid fire risks, and be able to support the crop growth. The daily rainfall and groundwater surface are constantly monitored to evaluate conditions of the groundwater surface and control them. [G4-EN27]
SAVING ENDANGERED PLANT SPECIES
One of conservation program objectives is to save endangered plant species. Plants are endangered because its population continues to decrease and its distribution is limited. The Company seeks to save endangered species by planting them in various rehabilitation and restoration locations to increase their population. The program starting the mid 2013 until 2015 managed to plant 28,261 trees of 16 endangered species. Overcoming a constraint in seedling scarcity, the Company make a nursery of rare plants, namely dark red meranti (Shorea spp.), kruing gajah (Dipterocarpus cornutus), Kalimantan mango (Mangifera casturi), and ulin (Eusideroxylon zwageri) by germinating seeds collected from the wild and from external parties. At the time this reporting, there were 39,930 seedlings available to save some species. [G4-EN13]
MITIGATING GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS
One of main issues in the world today is the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) related to climate change and global warming. Indonesia participated in the UN Climate Change Summit titled United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties at its twenty-first session (COP21) which was held in Paris. Indonesia declared a strong commitment to make a contribution to the global action to reduce emission by committing to reduce emission by 29% below its business as usual (BAU) in 2030, namely an increase of 26% in 2020 compared to that of the previous declaration, and an increase of 41% in the case of with international assistance.
Available data show that GHG emissions are predominantly carbon dioxide (CO2) which is largely as resulted from using fossil fuel. The biggest GHG emission contributors are industrial countries such as China, United States, European Union, India, Russia, Japan, Germany, and Canada.
As a token of awareness and understanding of this issue, the Company initiated a GHG emission calculation program of the whole operational aspects of palm oil production. The Company also held in-class training of relevant staff from every division on basic understanding of GHG emission calculation – basic theory and emission calculation by various available methods such as the ISCC method (International Sustainability and Carbon Certification), IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), Biograce, and GHG Calculation of ISPO by involving competent instructors. The training provided in all the Company’s working area was attended by approx. 180 participants. This training is expected to give an understanding on the basic concept of calculation and preventive/mitigating measures of emissions in the palm oil production activities.
Based on results of the GHG emission calculation in 26 model subsidiaries, GHG emission and absorption can be known and compared. Calculation results in 2015 show that the GHG emission in each subsidiary is on average 3.61 tons CO2/ha. The important thing to be paid attention isthe calculation results showing that each model subsidiary absorbs an average GHG of approx. 13.84 tons CO2/ha. By using a carbon balance, the amount of carbon absorbed by subsidiaries’ plantations as calculated is 3 to 4 times more than the amount of carbon emission. These results proved that the palm oil production can in fact absorb more carbon compared to its emission. [G4-EN15]
The energy scarcity and the increased GHG emission led various parties to find energy saving methods for multipurpose. The Company plays an active role in the efficient energy consumption through a “zero waste” policy, namely by utilizing oil palm waste to generate energy. [G4-EN19]
The Company implemented a “zero burning” policy as an effort to reduce emission, prohibit burning for operations in the plantation, for example, in land preparation for the crop rejuvenation. However, fire risks from other factors need to be anticipated and the Company prepared fire prevention and fighting facilities such as standard fire trucks and regularly-maintained water pumps, and periodic inspections to ensure its readiness at any time needed. Training on fire prevention and fighting is regularly held to improve any personnel’s preparedness in fighting fire. [G4-SO1]
CONTINUING TO SAVE ENVIRONMENT
In 2014, PT Letawa, one of subsidiaries located in Mamuju Utara Regency, West Sulawesi Province received a KALPATARU award from the Government of the Republic of Indonesia for “Savior of Environment” category. KALPATARU is the highest award in the environmental sector bestowed by the Government of the Republic of Indonesia to individuals or groups for their services in conserving the environment in Indonesia. KALPATARU was awarded to PT Letawa in cooperation with the community having made a number of great efforts to save the environment, through the “Letawa - Friend of Environment” program planting mangroves alongÂÂÂ the coastline in Tanjung Bakau, Muara Jono, and Muara Jengeng in Tikke Village, Tikke Raya District, Mamuju Utara Regency, West Sulawesi Province. Since its implementation in 2010 until this report preparation, under this program 157,147 mangrove seedlings have been planted along the 8.5 kilometer coastline in Mamuju Utara Regency, West Sulawesi Province. Planting of mangroves is followed with upkeeping of the crops to ensure that their growth is as expected. In addition, PT Letawa also preserved a karst cave, planted 7,000 seedlings of trees, and conserved the biodiversity. [G4-EN11,EN12,EN13]
In 2015 PT Letawa continued its efforts to save the environment by launching a mangrove ecotourism kampong program in the Muara Jono Subvillage, Tikke Village, Tikke Raya District, Mamuju Utara Regency, West Sulawesi Province. The Company continued to cooperate with the local community to promote planting mangroves along the coastline in order to prevent abrasion, conserve and enrich the biodiversity, and at the same time create new economic opportunities. Local tourists’ visits having an interest in mangrove forests have created business opportunities for the local community. Other impacts of the mangrove conservation activity are an increased fishing catch – particularly mollusks, crabs, shrimps, and several fish species such as mullets and milkfish – as well as an increased income of local fishermen. [G4-EN11,EN12,EN13]