New tool shows decline in oil palm related deforestation in Borneo

Deforestation from oil palm plantations on the island of Borneo has steadily declined since peaking in 2012, according to the digital tool Borneo Atlas.

Forest News wrote on 2 September that the revamped Borneo Atlas combined annual satellite data from the past 18 years with information on land ownership, illustrating the relationship between deforestation and the development of industrial oil palm and pulp-and-paper plantations on Borneo.

Using Atlas data, scientists had already determined that while annual deforestation rates peaked in 2016, clearance for plantations made up a decreasing portion of this total from 2012-2018.

Borneo Atlas was developed by scientists at the Indonesian Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Users could track the actions of particular companies over time, and check whether they were clearing new areas to establish plantations, or planting on land that had already been deforested for other reasons, Forest News wrote.

The tool would allow companies to meet growing demand in the non-deforestation market for recovery and restoration plans aimed at compensating for past deforestation, alongside moratoria on future land clearing.

National agencies within the government of Indonesia – the world’s largest palm oil producer – had registered their interest in the development of a similar product for the island of Sumatra, which produced the most palm oil in the country, Forest News said.