Besides as the motor of economy in many regions, palm oil constributes to conserve the environment. This could be seen from the narrow areas where the world also cultivates palm oil plantations.
Palm oil is more productive 8 to 10 times than other kinds of vegetable oil in the world. The areas are not wide too.
Besides having high productivity, palm oil tree is potential as the forestation in the open and abandoned areas where they economically have no values (wood), and conservation.
According to Deforestation Watch, Simon Chambers (18 July 2008), there are some reasons to develop palm oil. The first is that palm oil plantation could absorb 36,5 tons of dry material per year compared to the trees in the rain forests which could assimilate up to 25,7 tons of dry material per hectare. Palm oil plantation is more efficient to stabilize the atmosphere.
The second is that palm oil is unfairly accused about carbon emission. If palm oil plantations could substitute the trees in the rain forests, why they are accused to increase the carbon emission?
The third is that planting palm oil trees may not be as dense as the trees in the tropical forests. But they are more superior than planting other kinds of vegetable oil, such as, soybean, corn, canola, and sunflower in its relation to absorb CO2.
Crude palm oil (CPO) which could be as the material for renewable energy (biodiesel) should not be ignored too. But compared to the fossil material, biodiesel is more environmental.
Besides every process in fresh fruit bunch, solid and liquid waste could be advantaged and used as the substitution for fertilizer, as the source of electricity and avoid the environment pollution.
In the future palm oil could be the strategic commodity in the world because it could be the source of vegetable oil and renewable material. Besides environmental, it could increase the people’s economy.
(Teguh Patriawan / Vice Chairman of Standing Committee of Plantation Development, Indonesian Chambers)