Fieldwork in Riau for British Academy Grant on “Evidence Based Forestry in Indonesia”, April 2019

Our three-year British Academy Grant for International Partnership and Mobility ends later this year. We recently had one of our final rounds of fieldwork in Riau, Indonesia.

Participants for this round were myself, Dr Adam Tyson from University of Leeds, Dr Shofwan Albanna from Universitas Indonesia, Ms. Ratih Indraswari and Mr. Apresian Stanislaus from Universitas Katolik Parahyangan. Our local partners from Universitas Abdurrab, Universitas Riau, and Yayasan Hutanriau was of great assistance to our activities.

Alongside interviews and fieldtrips, we also organised a series of Focus Group Discussions among students of the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences (FISIP), Universitas Riau, with the theme “Palm Oil Futures: Riau 2050”. The result was a revealing look into the inner workings of decision making over land use in Riau, as viewed through the lens of students who often have parents or other relatives involved in the industry. Several interesting points came to the fore, including the unique position of Riau in the international oil palm supply chain (Riau being the center of oil palm production in Indonesia and thus the world), the pros and cons of palm oil (while it is undeniably good economically, the cons are varied and deep-rooted), and if oil palm would likely continue beyond the current generation (education being a major deciding factor).

We are planning to, as a team, develop the findings of the FGD into a commentary to be published in a suitable outlet soon. Watch this space!

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