How much land?

DTE 93-94, December 2012

Snapshots of corporate control over land in Indonesia

Many of Indonesia's wealthiest business players control extensive landholdings for large-scale projects such as oil palm and pulpwood plantations, mining, oil and gas, logging, tourism and property. Some of the country's highest earning conglomerates, including the Bakrie Group and the Royal Golden Eagle Group have interests in several sectors which demand large areas of land.

The following snapshot pictures of corporate landholdings are compiled from company data collected from their own websites, plus additional sources where indicated. Company information on the extent of landholdings for plantations in particular tends to reflect the areas that have been actually planted, and not the extent of undeveloped land in their ‘land banks’.  These land bank areas are often far larger than the area already planted.


PT Bakrie & Brothers Tbk has seven divisions, which include plantations, mining, oil and gas companies whose landholdings are extensive. The Bakrie Group ranked 7th in Jakarta Globe’s top corporate earners table for 2012.[1]

Bakrie Sumatra Plantations manages a total oil palm planted area of 92,200 hectares, plus 11,438 hectares of ‘plasma’ estate managed by smallholders plus 18,921 hectares of rubber in Sumatra, Central and South Kalimantan (2011 figures).

Its coal concessions managed through Bumi Resources amount to 187,182 hectares in Kalimantan and Sumatra, while non-coal mining concessions cover 289,919 hectares in Gorontalo, Sulawesi; Central and South Sulawesi, North Sumatra and East Nusa Tenggara provinces. The Group also has overseas concessions in Mauritania and Liberia.

Oil and gas exploration and production through PT Energi Mega Persada Tbk is in concessions covering an area of more than 28,000km2 (some of which is offshore) and includes coal bed methane projects.

The group’s property division, Bakrieland Development, is the largest developer in Jakarta’s central business district where it has developments covering 53.5 hectares, and controls 25% of apartment supply. It also has property investments in areas near the capital plus a 15,000 hectare land bank in prime locations in Jakarta, Bogor, Lampung and Balikpapan, Kalimantan.

Bakrie Group has attracted a lot of criticism over recent years due the Central Java mudflow disaster, the impacts of its coal operations at its Kalimantan mines, tax evasion accusations and the race for the next presidency (Aburizal Bakrie is standing).[2]


Wilmar: As at 31 December 2011, Singapore-based Wilmar held oil palm plantations covering approximately 247,081 hectares (ha) of planted area of which about 74% is located in Indonesia (Sumatra, West Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan), 24% in East Malaysia and 2% in Africa. In addition to holding land rights to plantation land, the company managed approximately 38,021 ha of oil palm plantation under the ‘plasma’ smallholder scheme in Indonesia. Wilmar is the biggest palm oil refiner in Indonesia and Malaysia, the world’s biggest palm oil processor and seller and its largest palm biodiesel producer.

The UK-based NGO Forest Peoples Programme notes that Wilmar has a land bank of over 600,000 hectares. The company has been widely criticised for taking over communities’ lands without their consent, for clearing forests and illegal burning and involvement in human rights abuses. Land disputes between Wilmar – a prominent member of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil – and local communities are numerous , as are conflicts over the way it treats smallholders.[3]

Fourth highest earner on Jakarta Globe’s list, Wilmar also came worst out of 500 companies in Newsweek’s green rankings for 2012.[4]


Jardine Matheson: via Jardine Strategic, Jardine Cycle & Carriage Ltd, PT Astra International Tbk, PT Astra Agro Lestari Tbk (AAL), holds 266,856 hectares of oil palm plantations in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi.

Jardine Matheson is incorporated in Bermuda, is listed on the London Stock Exchange, and has secondary listings in Bermuda and Singapore. The company operates from Hong Kong.

According to Jakarta Globe, Astra International’s predicted revenue in 2012 is $15.8 billion, up from 12.8 billion last year, making it Indonesia’s highest corporate earner. Jardine Matheson’s Chairman is Sir Henry Keswick, who has made donations to the UK’s ruling Conservative Party.

PT AAL has been accused of destroying forests in the Tripa peatswamp area of Aceh.[5]


Royal Golden Eagle Group, a private company owned by Sukanto Tanoto has large landholdings in agribusiness through its Asian Agri subsidiary, and pulpwood plantations, through APRIL.

Asian Agri has plantations in three provinces in Sumatra covering 100,000 hectares of plantations managed by the company, plus 60,000 hectares of smallholders plantation.

APRIL’s Sustainability Report for 2010 states that the company manages over 1.45 million hectares of forest land, including forest lands licensed to joint-venture supply partners. It claims that 19% of the land is conserved as natural forest and 25% is occupied by community enclaves, community livelihood plantations and essential operational infrastructure. Meanwhile 51% of the forest lands licensed to APRIL Indonesia are used to establish pulpwood plantations of Acacia, Eucalyptus and Melaleuca species.[6]

Another RGE subsidiary, Sateri owns and operates 150,000 hectares of freehold plantation land in Brazil, of which approximately 84,000 hectares are planted with eucalyptus.

Meanwhile, RGE’s energy subsidiary, Pacific Oil & Gas, holds three concession blocks in Sumatra: Jambi Merang, Kisaran – covering 2,178km2 – and Perlak in Aceh.

RGE comes 10th on the Jakarta Globe’s highest revenue earners’ table of Indonesian companies. Along with Indonesia’s other major pulp and paper producer APP of the Sinar Mas Group, APRIL’s operations have been widely criticised for destroying forests and taking over community land. Together APRIL and APP account for around 80% of Indonesia’s pulp and paper production.


Sinar Mas Group, led by Eka Tjipta Widjaja, holds a total planted area of 138, 959 hectares through subsidiary PT SMART, according to its website. The Group is listed third biggest earner on Jakarta Globe’s 2012 list.

Sinar Mas’ pulp and paper business unit APP is supplied by Sinarmas Forestry (SMF) which operates in Sumatra and Kalimantan. According to the company’s website, “SMF and its partners' projected plantable area is around 1.4 million hectares, in which over 70% consists of denuded wasteland.”[7] Like APRIL, APP has been criticised for practices that destroy forests and livelihoods.

Like the Bakrie Group, Sinar Mas also has a property division, Sinarmas Land Ltd, listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange, which invests in commercial property, hotels and resorts in Indonesia as well as Malaysia, Singapore and China. BSD City, a satellite city project in West Java being developed over a 6,000 hectare area is the company’s major revenue earner. Sinarmas Land claims to hold one of the biggest landbanks around Jakarta.


Indonesia’s Salim Group has subsidiaries operating in food, agribusiness, real estate, hotels and resorts, infrastructure and chemical manufacturing among other sectors.  Indoagri (Indofood Agri Resources), a subsidiary of Indofood, is listed on Singapore stock exchange. At the end of 2011 the company held 216,837 hectares of planted oil palm, plus another 38,152 hectares of rubber, sugar and other plantation crops. It also lists a smallholder area of oil palm and rubber extending to 85,719 hectares.

Salim Group is second only to Jardine Matheson in Jakarta Globe’s list of top revenue earners in 2012.

Indoagri’s listed subsidiary, PT Lonsum, has had a long and controversial history surrounding its operations, including the fatal shooting of indigenous people at a plantation in Sulawesi in 2003.[8]


Korindo Group’s Asiki Forest Management Division holds 677,535 hectares plus three oil palm plantation blocks, totaling 56,217 in Papua. Its timber plantations division holds 97,850 hectares in Central Kalimantan.

Korindo’s operations in Papua were associated with problems over land rights, access to resources and the influx of non-Papuan workers in a 2007 report by International Crisis Group. The Institute for Papuan Advocacy and Human Rights also reported fatal clashes between employees and indigenous Muyu people.[9]