Indonesia imposes moratorium on new palm oil plantations

September 20, 2018 - 4:27 am

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia's president has signed a moratorium on new palm oil development and ordered a review of existing plantations in a blow to an industry blamed for environmental destruction and worker exploitation.

Prabianto Mukti Wibowo, a deputy minister at the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs, said Thursday the moratorium, first announced after devastating fires in 2015, will last three years.

He said it's needed because many planned plantations are inside natural forests and also to clarify the legal rights of smallholders.

Palm oil, mainly produced in Malaysia and Indonesia, is used in a vast number of products from cosmetics to snacks.

The industry is the target of a global campaign by conservationists and human rights groups, who are pressuring consumer brands to drop producers involved in deforestation and rights abuses.