The data from Global Forest Watch (GFW) records that as of 2014, the government has granted land use permits for an area of 866,261 hectares of land, or approximately 65% of the total area of Pelalawan Regency. As much as 50% of the permits are proven to be incompatible with the Regional Regulation No. 23/2001 on Spatial and Regional Planning (RTRW) of Pelalawan Regency.
Palm oil is the main commodity in Pelalawan Regency. However, GFW’s data stated that 68.15% of the land (900,460 hectares) is unsuitable for palm oil cultivation. Meanwhile, the total area suitable for palm oil cultivation is only 24.75% (327,781 hectares), which consists of 50.35% (165,062 hectares) for HPK and 49.65% (162,719 hectares) for HP/HPT. The area of HP/HPT which is almost as large as the proportion of HPK provides a great opportunity for concessions in suitable areas for palm oil cultivation, while resulting in a better impact for forests.
The impacts of granting land use permits for unsuitable areas highly influence the lives of the local people, especially women.
The cultivation of palm oil in a majority of lands in Pelalawan Regency effects in a functional change of the land, which was previously utilized as plantations. Palm oil needs an adequate absorption of nutrient elements and water from the soil. On the other hand, it also needs pesticide intervention for its growth. As a result, the soil loses a large amount of water and water sources in unsuitable lands will decrease in number, causing a prolonged drought.
The impact is tremendous for the local people, especially women, who are socially perceived to be responsible to look after the family’s nutritional needs, thus affected the most.