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Peer-Review Record

Agroforestry as Policy Option for Forest-Zone Oil Palm Production in Indonesia

Reviewer 1: Anonymous
Reviewer 2: Anonymous
Reviewer 3: Anonymous
Reviewer 4: Anonymous
Received: 31 October 2020 / Revised: 30 November 2020 / Accepted: 16 December 2020 / Published: 18 December 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agroforestry-Based Ecosystem Services)

Round 1

Reviewer 1 Report

The research topic is very interesting and suitable for the journal of LAND.

This manuscript describes multi dimensions of oil palm production such as social and ecological. It suggests some policy options. However, there is no deep analysis using data. Suggested policy options are worth considering. But few reasons and evidences to select and support policy options. This manuscript can be a material for designing the research on agroforestry and oil palm production in Indonesia. Current manuscript looks like a report to highlight the issue using possible data. But it lacks rational structure of the research. Due to weakness of reliability and validity, it is difficult to follow the final conclusion.

In conclusion, I regret to inform you that this manuscript is not acceptable for publishing in the Journal of LAND.

Author Response

Reviewer 1 **Author response

The research topic is very interesting and suitable for the journal of LAND.

 **Author response: We thank reviewer 1 for this view, we hope the changes in the ‘packaging’ of the manuscript are convincing.

This manuscript describes multi dimensions of oil palm production such as social and ecological. It suggests some policy options. However, there is no deep analysis using data. Suggested policy options are worth considering. But few reasons and evidences to select and support policy options. This manuscript can be a material for designing the research on agroforestry and oil palm production in Indonesia.

**Author response: We checked back on the stated Aim of the journal (https://www.mdpi.com/journal/land/about): “Our aim is to encourage scientists to publish their experimental and theoretical research in as much detail as possible. … There are, in addition, unique features of this journal: manuscripts regarding research proposals and research ideas will be particularly welcomed.” We have added text to abstract and introduction to clarify the purpose of this paper as making the case that there is a substantive issue with oil palm in the Indonesian forest zone that requires analysis and policy change, while we explore the types of data and theoretical analysis that are currently available as part of that process, defining an agenda for followup policy research.

Abstract:

Line 17 “‘Forest zone oil palm’ ( FZ-OP) is a substantive issue that requires analysis and policy change.”

Line 29 “We discuss an agenda for followup policy research.”

Before the conclusions section we inserted two new sections 7.1 (lines 565 – 582) and 7.5 (lines 829-836)

 

Current manuscript looks like a report to highlight the issue using possible data. But it lacks rational structure of the research. Due to weakness of reliability and validity, it is difficult to follow the final conclusion.

** Author response: If reviewer has concerns about the strength and reliability of any data presented, it would have been useful if these had been pointed out in the review, rather than being presented as unsubstantiated claims (of questionable validity…). We have tried to clarify the structure of the manuscript (Lines 98-113) and the last sentence  of the conclusions (lines 863-866).

In conclusion, I regret to inform you that this manuscript is not acceptable for publishing in the Journal of LAND.

**Author response: As the three other reviewers did not share this opinion and provided more evidence-based reviews, the editor has given the authors a chance to revise the manuscript. We hope these revisions address the underlying concerns reviewer 1 expressed, although they may not shift reviewers’ opinion.

Reviewer 2 Report

This manuscript by Purwanto and colleagues addresses a key issue, that of the implementation of agroforestry in zones dominated by oil palm in Indonesia.

Indonesia legal forest zonation appear to be today with 15-20 % of oil palm that shouldn’t be there. So the authors address a series of questions to address why this situation is happening.

Indonesia has a legal loophole in which agroforestry areas can be claimed by the state as forests. Conversely, oil palm is cultivated at low densities by rural people to provide income, in a different way compared to monocultures, but those two different systems can be mixed up in global statistics.

To better understand the processes behind the current land uses, the authors concentrated in Oil palm in the forest zones of West Kalimantan and Jambi.

While the manuscript has sections with very well written information, it is very difficult to follow a line of thought to understand what they wanted to show with the review, mostly because the two examples chosen occupy to much of the text, and it is not clear what additional information they provide.

I have mixed feelings with this manuscript as the information in it is quite good and the reader gets a very good idea of what is going on in Indonesia, but there seems to be an excessive amount of information that has not been yet adequately summarized.

In my opinion, it seems the most relevant information starts in section 7 seven, the previous section could be summarized to let the reader concentrate more on the policy issues? Again, the authors need to make up their mind what information they want to put forward in their review.

Because I think it is a very important contribution as it will show the reader that real world situations are not black and white, I suggest these major revisions before it is ready for publishing, provided they focus more the review in a set of specific questions, and they reduce the manuscript substantially, especially in the section with the two case study regions.

I like a lot the organization of each section, but the authors need to deliver a more concise message.

Major comments

  1. My major concern is that the questions are not clearly stated. Which questions are given preference, those issued from the 260 webinar discussion? Or, questions regarding the legal loop-holes in the Indonesian legislation that lets the government claim rights on “false forests” so to speak, or that punish small producers doing agro-forestry which put them at the same level of illegal oil palm plantations? Or the questions stated as the objectives of the review. Please make this clear in the introduction as this is the part that needs more work.

  2. As stated above, the two study cases add a lot of information that is not easily understood in the context of the whole manuscript. If the intention is to show that many small producers are “trapped” in a legal loophole that make them appear violating forests protection laws, this probably could be done with fewer maps and less extra-information?

  3. The conclusions seem too general. I was expecting precise recommendations of where could the legislation be reformed, and also the role of large private associations in these reforms as they could work faster than the government in validating and supporting agroforestry as a “conciliation” land use type that will help avoid further deforestation, and clear the path to secure land-rights to peasants in these areas.

 

 

Minor Comments

-The first paragraph is very difficult to understand for people not familiar with forest definitions. Are you referring to the FAO definition of at least ¼ ha with a 15 canopy? (if my memory is right). If that is so, please make it more clear to make the first lines of the article good for a wider audience.

-The statement “The absence, at least until recently, of formal recognition for agroforestry as a valid form of land use intermediate to ‘forest’ and ‘agriculture’ has not prevented the existence and spread of such land uses that defy the rules” is a little bit ambiguous as in many countries agroforestry is accepted as a valid land use. Do the authors refer specifically to Indonesia?

-What is meant by “more fluid ‘integrated’ reality in the landscape”? in the caption of Figure 1? A high intermix of different land use zones compared to the graph? Also, can the graph be simplified without the yellow boxes? That information could go in the caption explaining the graph?

-“Page 2, second paragraph: should read “the emergence OF voluntary private standards”?

-In section 2.1, please correct rub-topics to sub-topics

-In section 2.2 it is not clear if the chosen regions are known to have 15-20% percent of oil palm in Indonesian state forest. Could you clarify?

-Page 4, 2.3, please include 1945 as the independence year

-Bottom of page 6 “oi palm”

-Last paragraph of page 7, please correct “The dataset of [75].allows”

 

 

Author Response

Reviewer 2

This manuscript by Purwanto and colleagues addresses a key issue, that of the implementation of agroforestry in zones dominated by oil palm in Indonesia.

**Author response: Not quite; we have tried to understand which text gave reviewer this impression, and modified that.

 

Indonesia legal forest zonation appear to be today with 15-20 % of oil palm that shouldn’t be there.

**Author response: Incorrect. The manuscript states that 15-20% of Indonesian oil palms grow within the forest zone, which is not the same as stating that 15-20% of the Indonesian forest zone is occupied by oil palm. We couldn’t find a place in the text where reviewer got this impression, but have checked the statements made in abstract and main text.

So the authors address a series of questions to address why this situation is happening.

Indonesia has a legal loophole in which agroforestry areas can be claimed by the state as forests.

**Author response: Not quite. We tried to clarify the text that may have given rise to this impression.

Conversely, oil palm is cultivated at low densities by rural people to provide income, in a different way compared to monocultures, but those two different systems can be mixed up in global statistics.

**Author response: Not quite – we again tried to clarify text in this respect.

To better understand the processes behind the current land uses, the authors concentrated in Oil palm in the forest zones of West Kalimantan and Jambi.

**Author response: True.

While the manuscript has sections with very well written information, it is very difficult to follow a line of thought to understand what they wanted to show with the review, mostly because the two examples chosen occupy too much of the text, and it is not clear what additional information they provide.

**Author response: We appreciate the view that the two case studies were documented in more detail than strictly needed, and have shortened the text, moved some of this text to Supplementary Materials, and added a subsection at the start of 7 that summarizes the relevant points of preceding sections .

I have mixed feelings with this manuscript as the information in it is quite good and the reader gets a very good idea of what is going on in Indonesia, but there seems to be an excessive amount of information that has not been yet adequately summarized.

**Author response: As stated before, we have moved some of the data to ‘Supplementary Materials’ and added a subsection at the start of 7 that summarizes the relevant points of preceding sections .

In my opinion, it seems the most relevant information starts in section 7 seven, the previous section could be summarized to let the reader concentrate more on the policy issues? Again, the authors need to make up their mind what information they want to put forward in their review.

**Author response: We agree that the discussion (section 7) on policy options in context is the core of the paper, but it builds on preceding insights. We strengthened the last paragraph of the introduction that clarifies the structure (‘story line’) of the manuscript and added a subsection at the start of 7 that summarizes the relevant points of preceding sections.

Because I think it is a very important contribution as it will show the reader that real world situations are not black and white, I suggest these major revisions before it is ready for publishing, provided they focus more the review in a set of specific questions, and they reduce the manuscript substantially, especially in the section with the two case study regions.

**Author response: Thank you, we tried to follow this advice, leading to some reduction in word length in the section with the two case study regions.

I like a lot the organization of each section, but the authors need to deliver a more concise message.

**Author response: Thank you, we tried to follow this advice.

Major comments

My major concern is that the questions are not clearly stated. Which questions are given preference, those issued from the 260 webinar discussion? Or, questions regarding the legal loop-holes in the Indonesian legislation that lets the government claim rights on “false forests” so to speak, or that punish small producers doing agro-forestry which put them at the same level of illegal oil palm plantations? Or the questions stated as the objectives of the review. Please make this clear in the introduction as this is the part that needs more work.

**Author response: Thank you, we revised the wording of some of the questions framed at the end of the introduction as objectives and structuring elements of the paper, and clarified that the webinar discussion (described in the methods) aligned with these points.

As stated above, the two study cases add a lot of information that is not easily understood in the context of the whole manuscript. If the intention is to show that many small producers are “trapped” in a legal loophole that make them appear violating forests protection laws, this probably could be done with fewer maps and less extra-information?

**Author response: We moved some to supplementary information and formulated conclusions around each piece of evidence provided.

The conclusions seem too general. I was expecting precise recommendations of where could the legislation be reformed, and also the role of large private associations in these reforms as they could work faster than the government in validating and supporting agroforestry as a “conciliation” land use type that will help avoid further deforestation, and clear the path to secure land-rights to peasants in these areas.

**Author response: We added some text to address this concern that reviewer has (and that readers may share), pointing to the complexity and sensitivity of Indonesian policy processes on such an issue, where policymakers are not expecting to be told what to do, but can, if carefully worded, appreciate analysis done on their options in context.

Minor Comments

-The first paragraph is very difficult to understand for people not familiar with forest definitions. Are you referring to the FAO definition of at least ¼ ha with a 15 canopy? (if my memory is right). If that is so, please make it more clear to make the first lines of the article good for a wider audience.

**Author response: The point is that there are various definitions used internationally and domestically, and the safe thing is not to assume that one understands what ‘forest’ means in any new context, unless one delves into the details. We stated this more clearly, ahead of the text that justifies the statement. The first sentence of the introduction now reads: “A reader cannot safely assume to understand what the term ‘forest’ means in any new context.”

-The statement “The absence, at least until recently, of formal recognition for agroforestry as a valid form of land use intermediate to ‘forest’ and ‘agriculture’ has not prevented the existence and spread of such land uses that defy the rules” is a little bit ambiguous as in many countries agroforestry is accepted as a valid land use. Do the authors refer specifically to Indonesia?

**Author response: We added a reference to the claim made – we’re happy to read that in reviewers’ context this is not the case…

-What is meant by “more fluid ‘integrated’ reality in the landscape”? in the caption of Figure 1? A high intermix of different land use zones compared to the graph? Also, can the graph be simplified without the yellow boxes? That information could go in the caption explaining the graph?

**Author response: We have followed the advice on the yellow boxes and adjusted the caption text.

-“Page 2, second paragraph: should read “the emergence OF voluntary private standards”?

**Author response: Thanks

-In section 2.1, please correct rub-topics to sub-topics

**Author response: Thanks, we did

-In section 2.2 it is not clear if the chosen regions are known to have 15-20% percent of oil palm in Indonesian state forest. Could you clarify?

**Author response: This issue is discussed in subsection 3.3

-Page 4, 2.3, please include 1945 as the independence year

**Author response: Thanks, we did

-Bottom of page 6 “oi palm”

**Author response: Thanks, we did

-Last paragraph of page 7, please correct “The dataset of [75].allows”

**Author response: Thanks, we did

Reviewer 3 Report

Review Land 1003524

Agroforestry as policy option for forest-zone oil palm production in Indonesia

Edi Purwanto, Hery Santoso, Idsert Jelsma, Atiek Widayati, Hunggul Y.S.H. Nugroho, Meine
van Noordwijk

 

Purwanto et al., in the present manuscript, analyse the crucial topic of the oil palm cultivation in relation to the socioecological effects on forest areas in Indonesia. Especially, they depict the present status of the oil palm coverage within the so-called permanent forest zone, highlighting the ambiguities and the ecological and socio-economical risks and conflicts that afflict both the present forest policy and the stakeholder’s perception along the complex value chain of the commodity palm oil. To accomplish their study purposes, the authors carry on a detailed literature and policy review, develop a relevant land use analyses based on available data and discuss possible scenarios related to different policy options.

The Abstract is clear and concise.

The Introduction describe a clear picture of both importance and articulation of the palm oil value chain. The ecological, social and legal issues are introduced and strictly linked to the ambiguity of the legality - illegality borders. Also the different dimensions and local uses in oil palm cultivation are clarified and embedded into the hot topic of social perception of the sustainability issues along such a variegated value chain, where international traders' responsibilities can be confounded with small growers’ ones and the impact of intensively managed monoculture seems to be wrongly mixed to that of community based land use systems, enclosed the agroforestry ones. Finally, the aims of this study are clearly addressed, starting from the analytical review of the topic and ending to the analysis of the policy options available in the referred context.

The proposed methodology is duly applied and the acquired information from both literature and various databases is analysed to effectively compose the real novelty contained in the manuscript: the present picture of the status of palm oil production in relation to the forest zone and to both applied and invoked policy measures.

Overall, this work is highly important as it provides both an extensive review of the complexity of palm oil related issues and a clear analysis of the likely policy options to be undertaken. In this sense, the work goes well further the national boundaries of Indonesia and it will meet a wide international interest by providing a sound picture of the current palm oil situation.

 

Minor details

Fig. 1 appears a bit chaotic. I suggest moving the text in yellow directly into the main Introduction text, thus explaining better the sense in Fig.1.

Concerning the public consultation (2.3), the assortment of attending stakeholders could be of interest to the reader.

In Fig. 2, legend, panels B and C should be reversed.

Fig.s 4, 5, 6 and 7 - Please, specify the units on x axes (ha?)

 

A number of sparse typing refuses requires a careful revision of the text.

 

Author Response

Reviewer 3

Purwanto et al., in the present manuscript, analyse the crucial topic of the oil palm cultivation in relation to the socioecological effects on forest areas in Indonesia. Especially, they depict the present status of the oil palm coverage within the so-called permanent forest zone, highlighting the ambiguities and the ecological and socio-economical risks and conflicts that afflict both the present forest policy and the stakeholder’s perception along the complex value chain of the commodity palm oil. To accomplish their study purposes, the authors carry on a detailed literature and policy review, develop a relevant land use analyses based on available data and discuss possible scenarios related to different policy options.

**Author response: Thanks for the supportive statement!

The Abstract is clear and concise.

**Author response: Thanks. We have made some further edits in response to reviewer 1.

The Introduction describe a clear picture of both importance and articulation of the palm oil value chain. The ecological, social and legal issues are introduced and strictly linked to the ambiguity of the legality - illegality borders. Also the different dimensions and local uses in oil palm cultivation are clarified and embedded into the hot topic of social perception of the sustainability issues along such a variegated value chain, where international traders' responsibilities can be confounded with small growers’ ones and the impact of intensively managed monoculture seems to be wrongly mixed to that of community based land use systems, enclosed the agroforestry ones. Finally, the aims of this study are clearly addressed, starting from the analytical review of the topic and ending to the analysis of the policy options available in the referred context.

**Author response: Thanks

The proposed methodology is duly applied and the acquired information from both literature and various databases is analysed to effectively compose the real novelty contained in the manuscript: the present picture of the status of palm oil production in relation to the forest zone and to both applied and invoked policy measures.

**Author response: Thanks

Overall, this work is highly important as it provides both an extensive review of the complexity of palm oil related issues and a clear analysis of the likely policy options to be undertaken. In this sense, the work goes well further the national boundaries of Indonesia and it will meet a wide international interest by providing a sound picture of the current palm oil situation.

**Author response: Thanks

Minor details

Fig. 1 appears a bit chaotic. I suggest moving the text in yellow directly into the main Introduction text, thus explaining better the sense in Fig.1.

**Author response: Thanks, we have simplified Figure 1 and updated its caption

Concerning the public consultation (2.3), the assortment of attending stakeholders could be of interest to the reader.

**Author response: Thanks, we have added further detail in S1

In Fig. 2, legend, panels B and C should be reversed.

**Author response: Thanks we did, both in caption and reference in the text

Figs 4, 5, 6 and 7 - Please, specify the units on x axes (ha?)

**Author response: Thanks, we did change these figures, clarifying that the x-axis has ha as unit

 A number of sparse typing refuses requires a careful revision of the text

**Author response: Thanks we checked the whole manuscript in various ways and indeed found a number of small issues to be addressed.

Reviewer 4 Report

The paper brings literature review focused on the forest-zone oil palm production in Indonesia.

The paper includes all relevant information to this topic. I admire logical and understandable structure of the paper and a collection of the huge data.

I have only 2 comments for improvement of the paper:

  1. In the section 2.3 Public consultation describe it in more detail.
  2. References: adjust list of references according to instructions of journal´s editor and give DOI by all references in journals, if exist.

Author Response

Reviewer 4

The paper brings literature review focused on the forest-zone oil palm production in Indonesia.

**Author response: Thanks for the interest shown

 

The paper includes all relevant information to this topic. I admire logical and understandable structure of the paper and a collection of the huge data.

**Author response: Thanks!

 

I have only 2 comments for improvement of the paper:

In the section 2.3 Public consultation describe it in more detail.

**Author response: We have added some further detail on this event.

 

References: adjust list of references according to instructions of journal´s editor and give DOI by all references in journals, if exist. **Author response: We had followed the advice on Free Format Submission in https://www.mdpi.com/journal/land/instructions#submission stating that “Land now accepts free format submission: Your references may be in any style, provided that you use the consistent formatting throughout.” which is not aligned with other (older?) instructions on punctuation of the references provided elsewhere… We modified punctuation and added DOI’s where we could find them.

Round 2

Reviewer 2 Report

This revised manuscript by Purwanto and colleagues addresses a key issue, that of the implementation of agroforestry in zones dominated by oil palm in Indonesia and legal loopholes that can benefit big companies or the government in reclaiming lands, while punishing small producers that are actually engaged in the sustainable use of the forest.

This is the second time I review this manuscript, so I will skip a summary.

In my first review, my concerns where centered on 3 issues:

  1. It was not clear how the questions for the review were chosen, as two different sets of questions were presented in the introduction. The authors resolved this issue.
  2. The two in depth cases added too much information, so it wasn’t clear how they contributed to the overall goes of the revision. The authors have reduced the amount of information in the section by transferring them to the annexes.
  3. The overall conclusions lacked a more precise policy information, that has been addressed by the authors.

 

Considering that this manuscript has a very pertinent synthesis of what has been happening in the region and a clear explanation of what policies have, and have not helped in the region, it is my opinion that the manuscript is ready for publication.

 

Minor comments

 

  • Line 607, should read “before”
  • Line 808 , should read “Oil”

 

 

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