45% area usable for Kalimantan plantations?

Khor Reports: HCS implies net area of 45% for Kalimantan plantations?

This morning, GAR and SMART made an announcement on its implementation of its pilot on High Carbon Stock (HCS) forest conservation. Here is Khor Reports’ quick review of GAR/SMART’s HCS issues and implications for the palm oil industry.

For the pilot, “HCS is defined as comprising BT, HK1, HK2 and HK3 areas”. Thus, all types of forest (high, medium and low density) as well as old scrub lands cannot be developed. Only “young scrub” and “cleared / open land” can be utilized. Thus, despite industry rumours of a higher ceiling that would be less of a constraint for oil palm development, it appears that the NGO-preferred 35tC/ha ceiling still applies. GAR/SMART’s preliminary study in June 2012, which was done together with certification facilitator The Forest Trust and Greenpeace, found the weighted average carbon stock in four Kalimantan concessions in degraded lands in tC/ha: 17 in cleared / open land, 27 in young scrub, 60 in old scrub, 107 in low density forest, 166 in medium density forest, and 192 in high density forest.

The indicative numbers for GAR/SMART’s pilot in eight concessions areas:
a)      In unplanted areas, 19,103 ha to be set aside for HCS (highlighted with yellow marker on slide #18). Add on 25,567 ha unplantable for reasons of HCV, peat and government regulations (slide #17). Total of 35% set-aside area of total concession.

b)      Add on (minimum) 20% area for smallholder / plasma schemes. The net area for the plantation / nucleus could be 45%?*

* And this is in partially developed concession areas; area usable in “new” concession areas could be lower assuming some HCS inadvertently cleared in the past.

source: "GAR and SMART implement pilot on High Carbon Stock forest conservation"  

With this ground-truthing of satellite image mapping for Kalimantan degraded areas, NGOs may be more confident to make advanced (and even historical) studies to inform plantation companies on estimated HCS set asides they should have (or might have had) in place. As we have mentioned before, we think this is a pre-cursor to a push for rural land use planning which has been generally lacking in Southeast Asia. NGOs appear well advanced in using satellite imagery for studying oil palm developments. Other issues arising would be connectivity of HCS areas and the need for 100 meter connectivity buffer corridors (see slide #31 below).
source: "GAR and SMART implement pilot on High Carbon Stock forest conservation" 

The HCS ceiling is fundamental to arresting deforestation. It seems a low key issue, but it will be a thorny question for plantations on the usability of their land banks. Elsewhere, Norway (population 4.9 million) has also been highlighting concerns about palm oil’s impact on deforestation, perhaps in less impactful but highly symbolic ways; weblink:/khorreports-palmoil/2013/03/norway-goes-cold-on-palm-oil.html

Also refer to Khor Reports on details of preliminary HCS report findings in GAR/SMART-TFT-Greenpeace report: Khor Reports Palm Oil Strategic Analysis #7, 11 June 2012, "Carbon Stocks Study Presages Problems for Plantations." Ask for a copy if you don't have it yet.
Info source: Golden Agri-Resources Ltd: "GAR and SMART implement pilot on High Carbon Stock forest conservation," 13 March 2013.