Indonesia: North Sumatra mangroves turned into oil palm plantations

The Jakarta Post 25 Nov 15;

Thousands of hectares of mangroves along the eastern coast of North Sumatra have been seriously damaged due to large areas being converted into oil palm plantations.

Head of the North Sumatra Environment Agency (BLH), Hidayati, said that almost 50 percent of the mangroves in the area had been severely damaged due to the conversions.

“Conversion of mangroves into oil palm plantations is rapidly increasing due to support from the local administrations. This is very ironic,” Hidayati told The Jakarta Post after officially opening a workshop on the role of mangroves in mitigating climate change and adopting green lifestyles held in Medan on Tuesday.

She said that apart from oil palm plantations, some mangroves were also converted into fish ponds.

She said that most of the owners of the oil palm plantations and fish ponds were ‘powerful people’ who were notorious for being untouchable by the law.

Hidayati blamed the situation on regional heads who issued licenses for the establishment of oil palm plantations in coastal areas. This, she said, was completely against the government’s efforts to preserve mangroves.

Among the worst-affected regions was Langkat regency, she said as the Karang Gading and Langkat Timur Laut wildlife parks in the regency were currently completely damaged due to the massive conversions.

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