Drone Video Exposes Illegal Burning of Land on Palm Oil Plantations in Indonesia

Screenshot of a palm oil field that was cleared by burning in Indonesia. Image is from a drone video uploaded on YouTube.

Screenshot of a palm oil field that was cleared by burning in Indonesia. Image is from a drone video uploaded on YouTube.

A drone video captured the extent of burnt oil palms and the clearing of land in the western region of Indonesia. The burning of land is believed to be the cause of the haze that has blanketed Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia every year.

The drone's launch was part of an investigation by Eyes on the Forest Indonesia (EOF), a coalition of three environment groups which was established in 2004 to study the recurring forest fires.

According to EOF, the video gave proof that 3,000 hectares of land allegedly owned by plantation company Andika Permata Sawit Lestari (APSL) were ‘deliberately burned’.

The video can be used as an additional evidence against the company, which is facing charges of land grabbing and operating without a proper license.

In recent months, the Indonesian government has stepped up its efforts to stop forest fires in Riau, the ‘ground zero’ of the haze disaster. It vowed to prosecute companies responsible for the forest fires. It also urged Malaysia and Singapore to probe the companies in their countries which are funding the expansion of palm oil plantations in Indonesia.

Early this month, seven employees of the government’s environment ministry investigating a fire incident were hostaged by scores of individuals who were assumed to be employees of a plantation company. They were released after the police intervened and only after they deleted photos and videos of what they documented in the area.

The EOF said the drone video confirmed what the employees were investigating.

As Indonesia pursues its probe about the issue, haze continues to plague the country and its neighbors.

Watch the drone video that exposes the burning of land in Indonesia:

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