Biofuels and Transformation Processes: The Political Ecology of Palm Oil Plantations in Indonesia
Within few decades the plantation of oil palm increased rapidly, the total cultivated area now accounting for nearly one-tenth of the world´s permanent cropland. Given its leading position in oil palm markets, Indonesia has been chosen as research site of interest for this project. In 2006 the Indonesian Government established its national policy on biofuels, mainly based on palm oil. The biofuel development program accommodates the following objectives: energy security, poverty and unemployment reduction as well as the development of new export opportunities.
Palm oil plantation received considerable attention due to its environmental consequences; the social aspects of the issue have furthermore led to controversy. The study at hand uses the framework of political ecology to explore the inequalities of access to land and land rights, drawing upon case studies of oil palm plantations in Sumatra. It will focus on regulation practices and the implementation of national biofuels policy and on the one hand and socio-economic outcomes on the local level on the other.
The dissertation is part of the DOC-team “Causing Ignition: Biofuels and Social-Ecological Conflicts” (in cooperation with Christina Plank and Anke Schaffartzik) which is funded by the Austrian Academy of Sciences.