Land bigger than Netherlands have burned in Indonesia in the past five years, Greenpeace said, attacking President Joko Widodo’s government for allowing the pulpwood and palm oil sector to act with impunity despite bearing “considerable responsibility” for the fire crisis.
The environmental group said some 9.9 million acres of land have burned in Indonesia between 2015 and 2019.
About a third of those areas were located in palm oil and pulpwood concessions, it said, citing an analysis of official maps.
“Palm oil and pulp firms continue to operate with few or no sanctions”, Greenpeace added.
There has been no action against eight of the 10 palm oil companies with the largest burned areas in their concessions from 2015 to 2019, despite fires burning in multiple years within their concessions, it added.
Further exacerbating the situation, Indonesia’s government and legislators recently passed a new law that dismantles environmental protections.
The law protects the plantation sector from future liability for damage to the environment and fires in their concessions, the report said. The law also drew huge protests in Indonesia.
Indonesia, which has the biggest forests outside the Amazon and the Congo, is the world’s largest producer of palm oil and each year fires are linked to slash-and-burn practices used to clear areas for palm oil cultivation.