In the other blogs in this series I have looked at the environmental justice issues surrounding the production of palm oil in Indonesia and the effect it has had on the global environment, forests, animals and indigenous peoples. However, as a Geographer there are many ways in which the discipline can help to eradicate these justice issues in the nation and this blog will outline some of the ways that the subject can contribute to minimising the major environmental costs that are associated with oil palm plantations
The first way in which Geographers can add to this area of work is by our study and gaining of specific knowledge of spaces. By analysing the different land users of an area, we can find, use and collect specific data about climate impacts, species distribution and people’s cultural practices, norms and societal distributions which would be of great value to all of the key players surrounding the palm oil debates in Indonesia.
Moreover, Geographers also have the capability to use Geographical information systems (GIS) attaching information to satellite images to further increase understanding of the space in question. These satellite images can also provide clear direction as to the land use of a space, whether forested, cleared, plantations or human occupancy so can manage needs by consulting this GIS software, helping to reduce the impacts of planned plantations on animals and people.
Additionally, Geographers can also bring their knowledge of key concepts to areas. The concept that stands out in oil palm production is sustainability. We can work with local people to promote the sustainable development of communities, assuring that such communities can meet their own needs and those of future generations, possibly by promoting the sustainable use of wood and its replanting, or by promoting the efficiency of production of the palm oil crops to help prevent degrading of the local environment.
Geographers also have the capability to raise awareness about sensitive issues. By having the skills to write and present, we can use our particular knowledge to affect a wide audience about issues on both global and local scales, whether this is by writing scholarly articles and presenting at formal conferences or in less academic ways, for example: by writing and publicising blogs like this one, via social networking sites or just talking about the issues with other interested parties. Throughout my blogs I have used these resources to keep me informed.
Furthermore, Geographers can contribute by starting to think about solutions to the costs incurred. By using the particular skills that Geographers have accumulated after their years of study, and the detailed knowledge they have gathered about a place, its people, its characteristics and its culture, we can suggest practical solutions to problems that aim to satisfy as many interested parties as possible.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this series as much as I have enjoyed writing it. I intend to continue blogging on environmental issues as frequently as possible.