March 27, 2019 / 6:49 AM / 4 months ago

Indonesia certifies a record amount of palm plantations as sustainable

FILE PHOTO: An aerial photo of a palm oil plantation in Batanghari, Jambi province, Sumatra island, Indonesia November 28, 2018. Antara Foto/Wahdi Septiawan/via REUTERS

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia, the world’s largest palm oil producer, has certified a record amount of land under palm oil cultivation as employing environmentally sustainable methods, the Indonesia Sustainable Palm Standard (ISPO) Commission said on Wednesday.

The government launched the ISPO in 2011 but has accelerated certification in recent years amid mounting global pressure to address the environmental impacts of producing palm oil.

The ISPO Commission has certified 502 plantations since its inception, covering 4.11 million hectares (10.2 million acres) of area, or nearly 30 percent of Indonesia’s estimated 14 million hectares of palm plantation, R. Azis Hidayat, the head of the ISPO Commission Secretariat, said in a statement on Wednesday.

The certified plantations produce 11.57 million tonnes of crude palm oil per year.

The area certified by the ISPO in the past three years were nearly three times the first four years of its operation, Hidayat said.

The ISPO, which is mandatory for large palm companies to join but voluntary for small farmers, is among the Indonesian government’s efforts to make palm produced in a more environmentally sustainable manner.

Their standards, however, are considered less strict than the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

Land cleared for palm cultivation is blamed for releasing large amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere since the space is typically made by burning forests, endangering orangutans and Sumatran tigers.

The European Union has classified palm as a crop that causes significant deforestation and on its track to phase out palm oil from renewable transportation fuel use, upsetting the governments of Indonesia and Malaysia, the world’s two largest producers of the edible oil.

Reporting by Bernadette Christina Munthe; writing by Fransiska Nangoy; editing by Christian Schmollinger

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