13 March 2015
Sustainable Peatlands for People & Climate (SPPC) Project
Funded by Norad
Cover photo: Melaleuca cajuputi has showy flowers and pale, papery bark that is shed (here in South
Kalimantan, September 2007).
Note: all photographs are by the author, except Photo 4
Indonesian paperbark, ‘kayu putih’ or ‘gelam’ (Melaleuca cajuputi) as it is known in Indonesia is a
member of the eucalyptus family, and like the other members of the family it sheds its bark, produces
showy flowers and contains fragrant oils. It is a remarkably resilient small tree, as it can withstand
frequent flooding and acidic soils, but also mildly brackish conditions and it also survives mild fires
reasonably well. It is therefore often found in disturbed areas behind mangroves, where swamp forests
have been cleared and burnt, and there one may find large stands of same aged gelam trees. While it
prefers clayey soils, it may also occur on peat and even deep peat. Its wood is very strong, durable
and resistant to rot; at the same time it is very heavy and does not float. It is therefore often seen on
construction sites where it is used for scaffolding, but also as piles driven into the soil upon which
houses or other constructions (even roads!) may be built. It is very versatile and has many other uses
as well. Its wood is used for making charcoal, and used by the pulp-and-paper and active carbon
industries. Its leaves contain etheric oils that may be distilled and used for medicinal purposes, and in
ointments and liniments. The showy flowers produce honey and support beekeeping, while the bark is
traditionally used for caulking boats. In a wider landscape, gelam may be cultivated together with
sedges (purun, Lepironia articulata) used for weaving mats, hats and so on, while fish may be kept in
pools, ditches, ponds and segments of canals common in the disturbed habitats favoured by this
In this case study information is collated about the ecology and propagation of the species, while the
confusing taxonomy is detailed in an annex. Also included are sections on its various uses, production
systems, productivity and markets. Opportunities for cultivating gelam for economic benefit in
disturbed but rehabilitated peatland areas (aka ‘paludiculture’ or swamp cultivation) are addressed,
and the main section concludes with an overview of knowledge gaps and research needs. Lastly, the
case study includes a list of references for additional reading, followed by the annex on taxonomy and
a lengthy description of the species.
Photo 1: Natural stand of Melaleuca cajuputi with mangrove ferns (Acrostichum) at
1. Uses of Gelam
Gelam poles are used for construction, as they last well in moist conditions and are not readily
attacked by termites. They are widely used in Indonesia for construction purposes (scaffolding, piles)
and for lining watercourses, while thicker trunks are used for sawn timber, high quality fuel wood and
charcoal (Photo 2). The sawn timber is used for construction, building posts and piles, fencing posts,
carpentry, and shipbuilding. It is durable under wet conditions, but requires treatment when used in dry
outdoor conditions. The wood is hard and fine to medium textured; it is difficult to plane, but saws well,
but the high silica content dulls saws. The timber is moderately hard to hard, heavy (sinker), and the
sapwood is light pink-brown.
Gelam wood chips from Vietnam are sold for producing paper, pulp, medium-density fibreboard
gelam with strains of Eucalyptus and Acacia and found its properties (cellulose & lignin content, fibre
length) to be very comparable to Acacia. The species is specifically cultivated for pulp production in
Photo 2: Melaleuca cajuputi poles being transported by boat and truck to
gelam contains aromatic, etheric oils. The main etheric oil product from gelam is cajuput (or cineole)
oil, a valuable Eucalyptus-like oil that is extracted from gelam leaves in restricted parts of Indonesia
(e.g. Sulawesi, Tanimbar, Buru, Java) and Southeast Asia where the subspecies (Melaleuca cajuputi
ssp. cajuputi) containing higher concentrations of the oil occurs (Craven, 1999). M. cajuputi has been
planted in Central Java since 1926 for oil production, using seeds from Buru, and it is also planted in
Malaysia (Doran, 1999). The cineole content of gelam varies per subspecies (see annex 1) and
location (Doran, 1999). Measurements for Melaleuca cajuputi subspecies cajuputi shows that cineoles
comprise 43.7% of the essential oils found, while for M. cajuputi subspecies platyphylla this was found
to be 41.0% (Silva et al., 2007).
Cajuput oil is used in various ointments, balms (e.g. tiger balm), shampoos, medicines, insect
which is then collected and bottled. In Vietnam, the oil content was found to be low and of a poor
quality (compared to Australian Melaleuca oil), with an annual yield of “more than US$ 40 per hectare”
(Maltby et al., 1996), and hence the introduction of the Australian species Melaleuca alternifolia for this
purpose (Huynh et al. 2011). In Thailand, though, the species is widely used for this purpose (Nuyim,
2001). Safford (pers. comm. 1996) reports that by proper management, cineol-rich forms can be
The oil is used as a medicine for many ailments. It is used internally for the treatment of coughs and
colds, and against stomach cramps, colic and asthma. It is used externally for the relief of neuralgia
and rheumatism, and for the relief of toothache and earache. The oil repels insects, used as a
sedative and relaxant, and is useful in treating worms. Lastly, it is used as a fragrance in soaps,
cosmetics, detergents and perfumes, and in flavouring cooking (Doran, 1999).
Photo 3: Kayu putih Melaleuca cajuputi oil and balms containing this oil are
Melaleuca flowers produce good quality honey and are favoured by honeybees (Photo 4). Honey –
mainly from the migratory Asian Giant Bee, Apis dorsata – is harvested from wild beehives in the
swamp forest. In general, the harvesting of honey is currently of a very small-scale, and almost entirely
for subsistence purposes only. There is obvious scope for honey production in Indonesia, as the
country is a net importer of this product. The market is potentially great, as honey is perceived to be of
medicinal value (obat). Gelam flowers profusely all-year round and produces copious amounts of
nectar, making it an ideal host species for bees. Bee-keeping is proposed by the project to be carried
out on a modest scale, in conjunction with the gelam plantation. Maltby et al. (1996) report that 5-6
litres of honey can be harvested per hectare per year.
Mulder (1993) reports on honey production from the Mekong Delta, and found that both professional
beekeepers and honey hunters operated in the area. The Song Trem State Forest, with about 2500 ha
of replanted Melaleuca, produced about 13-15 tons of honey annually, but Mulder (1993) points out
that the resource is under-utilised. The best forests are 4-6 year old stands which are still quite open,
season and 60-90% in the rainy season. Honey is collected during two major seasons, each nest
being cropped 3-4 times per season. The first harvest is usually done three weeks after the observed
first arrival of the colony, followed by the next harvest after a two week interval. The yield per harvest
is about 4 kg of honey. Mainly the upper part of the comb is cut, leaving brood comb in the nest. Later
in the season more brood comb is cut away because this would eat away the honey during the
remaining season. Brood is protein rich, and is eaten fresh or baked (Mulder, 1993).
Thailand, young shoots of Melaleuca cajuputi are considered edible, while an edible mushroom called
“Samet” is also harvested from the Thai Melaleuca forest Nuyim, 2001). Fishing and harvesting of
edible ferns (young fronds of Stenochlaena palustris) is common in seasonally flooded gelam areas
and trees are often intercropped with sedges (e.g. Lepironia articulata) to provide material for weaving
(Giesen, 1990; Maltby et al., 1996). In the Mekong Delta, farmers tending stands of gelam also
cultivated frogs for the regional market. The papery bark is used for caulking boats, packing material,
filling mattresses and pillows, as insulation material, and for roofing of temporary shelters (Doran,
1999). In the estuarine environment, the species provides a habitat for birds, fish and shrimps.
2. Economics of Gelam
In the following, value figures have been quoted from various authors and dates. These need to be
potential productive value per hectare per year.
Duc and Hufschmidt (1993) and Maltby et al. (1996) report that for the Mekong Delta of Vietnam,
10,000 trees can be harvested per hectare on a 9-year cycle that includes 6 growth years. The
maximum size of these poles is 20 centimetres. The model developed in the Mekong Delta was based
A 9 year cycle: with years 1-2 = preparation & planting, 3-8 = growth, 9 = harvest
Initial investments: bund & drainage system construction, land preparation, nursery & planting,
Recurrent investments: fertilizer, labour
Benefits: honey (yrs 4-8), thin poles (yrs 4-6), large poles (yr 9)
Total investment Dg 6.5 million (about USD 600); while total returns are Dg 35 million (about
This represents a net return of USD 290/ha.yr.
Potential calculated for South Kalimantan (Giesen, 1996) for one hectare, based on a 9-year cycle and
only on pole production:
5,000 small poles (thinning cycle, yrs 4-6) @ Rp700 each = Rp. 3.5 million (at the time of
10,000 large poles @ Rp2,500 each = Rp 25 million (for 9-year cycle; at the time of
This leads to a return of about USD 1390/ha.yr.
On a study by ICRAF in Mesuji and Sugihan areas, South Sumatra, Suyanto et al. (2002) found that
the farm gate price for timber was Rp. 150,000/m³ (about 13 USD), while for sawn timber this was Rp.
500-600,000/m³ (about USD 44-52; unfortunately, these values are, however, not linked to unit labour
In Central Java, 9,000 ha of plantation were found to produce about 31 kg of cinerol oil per hectare per
year (Doran, 1999), which at a market price of about USD 9.4/kg leads to an average of USD
292/ha.yr for the oil alone.
Options for home industries, & small- versus large-scale production
Beekeeping offers several options for home industries, based on commodities such as honey,
beeswax, pollen and royal jelly. Increasing the quality (e.g. by reducing water content of honey),
packaging and labelling, and linking with upscale markets (e.g. at provincial or national rather than
local level) can further enhance incomes.
Weaving based on Lepironia articulata forms a basis for home industries in South Sumatra (e.g. Ogan-
basketry. Again, linking with upscale markets can further enhance incomes, especially if combined
with other local initiatives (e.g. small woven baskets for packaging jars of locally produced honey).
Charcoal making can also be conducted on a small-scale basis, and offers opportunities for home
Jakarta, Singapore or Kuala Lumpur).
Cajuput or cineol oil is extracted from Melaleuca cajuputi leaves by means of staged distillation, i.e.
basis (e.g. small factories; see Huynh et al 2011). Such production could be considered at a village
level, but not at household level. The latter also poses a health risk, as cineol oil is (mildly) toxic and
inappropriate for distilling in a domestic setting.
Most products from Melaleuca can ideally be done on a small-scale, as much is labour intensive
(thinning of stands, collection of honey, reeds and mushrooms, etc...). Only pole, pulp and timber
production could be done at an industrial scale, although this could also be carried out by farmers
providing raw materials for a larger company.
Fuel wood and pole markets are generally local, although poles from South and Central Kalimantan
are also marketed to Java, via Banjarmasin and Surabaya.
Cajuput oil is marketed world-wide via national companies that produce ointments, balms (e.g. tiger
The market for honey is generally local, although some is marketed regionally, for example, from the
3. Gelam as a paludiculture species
Degradation and conversion of peat swamp forests of Sumatra and Kalimantan has led to enhanced
carbon emissions and contributed to Indonesia being a major emitter of greenhouse gases. Drainage
of peatland not only increases oxidation and fire risk, but leads to soil subsidence and undrainable
conditions. 7 Mha of peatland on Sumatra and Kalimantan are licensed for plantation crops such as oil
palm and Acacia crassicarpa that require drainage and contribute to carbon emissions and
subsidence. It is suggested that planting useful peat swamp forest species that do not require
drainage in a ‘paludiculture’ (swamp cultivation) programme could provide an economically attractive
and sustainable alternative. Gelam is a species that could be considered in paludiculture programmes.
Apart from 9,000 ha of plantation in Central Java, Melaleuca cajuputi is known in Indonesia from
natural stands only, especially in disturbed near coastal habitats, including shallow to moderately deep
peat (Giesen, 1990). In the U Minh forest in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam, it has been widely cultivated
on deep peat, as part of a restoration programme following widespread deforestation and fires (Maltby
et al., 1996). Peat hydrology is not elaborated in the accounts and papers available on these
Vietnamese programmes, but it can be assumed that the hydrology was not intact when paludiculture
attempts were initiated. Also, given that these plantations suffer from fires it may be assumed that
hydrological rehabilitation had not occurred prior to plantation establishment.
The example from the Mekong Delta (see 2. Gelam economics) shows that multiple products (poles,
(see Duc & Hufschmidt, 1993) to include seasonal fisheries (during season when peatland is flooded)
and reeds (e.g. Lepironia articulata, which provides excellent weaving material). In principle, other
trees or shrubs could be intercropped with rows of Melaleuca, as the species does not provide much
shade and hence does not compete strongly for light. In Central Java (albeit on dryland), young stands
of gelam are intercropped with cassava, maize and groundnuts during the first two years, with gelam
planted at a density of 5,000 per hectare (Doran, 1999). However, leaves and bark shed by Melaleuca
are allelopathic, i.e. they release compounds that are (mildly) toxic to other plant species and thereby
suppress their growth and possible competition (for space, nutrients). This has not been studied in any
detail and certainly not in production systems (such as paludiculture), and this would need to be
assessed case-by-case via trials with potential intercropping species. However, it does not visibly
Once production systems have been established on peat, one needs to consider adopting a low
desiccation of peat, and subsequent subsidence and a much increased fire risk. This can be mitigated
to some degree by planting mixed age stands and selectively felling older specimens, or by felling
alternate rows or small blocks (<5x5m).
4. Summary of issues and knowledge gaps.
The species has a wide tolerance range, but there has not been much in the way of selection in order
timber), ii) produce leaves with high concentrations of cajuput oil, and iii) produce prodigious amounts
of flowers all year round (for honey and seed production). However, all these aspects range widely in
natural settings, and there seems lots of room for improving the stock.
Cineole oil content of leaves can readily be determined using near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy on air
for oil content and use in breeding programmes.
For paludiculture, the cultivation of Melaleuca on (deep) peat needs to be better understood. Trials
production rates (of timber, poles, oil) on deep peat.
While in Central Java gelam has been successfully cultivated in dryland plantations since 1926,
outside Java (mineral soil swamp in South Kalimantan, MoF in 2004) experienced 100% failure within
a few years (pers. observation in 2007; see Photo 5). Hence, there is dependence in Indonesia on
naturally regenerating stands.
Little is known about the social aspects of Melaleuca cultivation and/or harvesting, especially in
Tenure seems the greatest obstacle at present, as most Melaleuca is harvested in the wild from
degraded areas under MoF jurisdiction. Community forestry areas would seem a good alternative, but
such stands do not exist at present. Opportunities for this need to be studied.
Market studies are required, to understand where the major demands are (for oil, pulp, wood), and
Service with three tree species, including gelam in 2004 (visited Sept 2007).
Herbarium, Queensl., No. 1:1-114.
acid sulphate soils and other poor environments. Unpublished report, presented at the Symposium on
Acid Sulphate Soils, Dakar, 1985.
Craven, L.A. and B.A. Barlow (1997) – New Taxa and New Combinations in Melaleuca (Myrtaceae).
and R. Lowe (eds) – Tea Tree. The genus Melaleuca. Harwell Academic Publications, p.11-28.
1999. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 19. Essential Oil plants. Bakhuys Publishers, Leiden,
the Netherlands (277 pp.), p:126-131.
Duc, L.D. and M.M. Hufschmidt, (1993) - Wetland management in Vietnam. Paper presented at a
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Salim Group, 10 November 1996.
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Annex 1. Taxonomy & description of Melaleuca cajuputi Roxb.
(a) Branchlet with flower and
fruit clusters, (b) flower, and
(c) fruit; adapted from Giesen
et al (2007)
taxonomic status of gelam in Indonesia is often confused and at least two species are known to occur.
The species occurring in western Indonesia is Melaleuca cajuputi, which extends from mainland Asia
to northern Australia, while a second species, Melaleuca leucadendra, is confined to eastern
Indonesia (Papua, Moluccas, Nusa Tenggara Timor) and northern Australia (Blake, 1968; Craven,
1999). At least three subspecies are known of Melaleuca cajuputi: ssp. cajuputi, ssp. cumingiana and
ssp. platyphylla (Craven & Barlow, 1997), of which ssp. cajuputi occurs in Moluccas and Australia
(Western Australia and Northern Territory), ssp. cumingiana, occurs in Burma, Vietnam, Thailand,
Sumatra, southwestern Kalimantan, western Java; and ssp. platyphylla occurs in Papua, Papua New
Guinea and Australia (Queensland). In the Indonesian and Southeast Asian literature the species in
Western Indonesia is often incorrectly described as Melaleuca leucodendron or M. leucadendra. In
summary, Melaleuca cajuputi occurs from Burma eastwards to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam,
Southern China, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia (Sumatra, Borneo, Java, Lesser Sundas,
Moluccas), The Philippines, East Timor, Papua New Guinea and northern Australia.
b. Synonyms: Melaleuca commutata Miq., Melaleuca lancifolia Turcz., Melaleuca leucadendron L.
c. Vernacular name(s): English: paperbark tree, white-wood, Melaleuca; Indonesian: gelam, kayu
putih, inggolom, baru galang, waru galang iren, bus, irono ngelak, sakelan, ai kelane, ai elane
d. Description: Large shrub to tall evergreen tree, up to 24(-30) m tall but usually 5-15 m, with a
narrow, dense, greyish-green bushy crown and a stout, often twisted trunk. Bark whitish to light grey or
greyish-brown, often tinged with orange-brown, fissured and papery flaky in coarse elongate shaggy
pieces. Young twigs covered with silky hairs. Leaves spirally arranged, leaf stalk 6-12.5 mm long, leaf
blade 5-12.5 by 1.25-3.75 cm, greyish-green, lanceolate, often slightly curved, base tapered, with 5-7
longitudinal nerves, young leaves silky hairy. Flowers white, without a stalk, arranged in groups of
three along a terminal spike, 7.5-15 cm long, fluffy because of the many stamens, fragrant; petals 5,
stamens numerous. Fruit a small, 3 mm wide woody capsule, without a stalk, cushion-shaped,
greyish-brown, with a narrow groove round the top surrounding a small crater-like cup marked with 5
leafless part of an axillary shoot, and after flowering the end bud continues growth to produce a flush
of leaves before dropping. Leaves have a high content of highly aromatic cajuput oil (minyak angin in
Malaysia and Indonesia). It is locally common to very common.
e. Ecology: Melaleuca cajuputi occurs naturally in coastal freshwater swamps, both on mineral soils
and moderately deep to deep peat, and at the landward end of mangroves. Natural stands of
swamps/peat swamp forests (van Steenis 1938; see photo 6). The species is also planted along
roadsides. In can grow in perennially wet areas, but also in dryland areas with a pronounced dry
season. It is fairly wind resistant but can snap in severe gales. Pollination is by insects. Melaleuca
occurs on heavy, deeply flooded acid sulphate soils (e.g. in Mekong Delta in Vietnam; Ogan-Komering
floodplain in South Sumatra, and Negara River floodplain in South Borneo), coppices readily, and can
withstand repeated fires. In swamps that have been disturbed, for instance by clearing and fires, it
tends to dominate the secondary regrowth, sometimes forming large, dense stands of almost uniform
sized trees. The secret of its success seems to be its tolerance of fires, flooding and acid soils. Its
papery bark offers insulation against heat, and its growth appears to be promoted by burning, mainly
because most other woody species are thereby eliminated (Van Steenis 1954, Paijmans 1976, Giesen
1990). Throughout much of its range, gelam appears to coincide with the occurrence of potential acid
sulphate soils, and it has been considered that it might be a useful indicator species (Brinkman & Vo
Tong Xuan 1988). It can withstand acid waters and can be found in the pH range of 3-7. Gelam can
maintain growth under hypoxic (flooded) conditions due to adaptations of its metabolism (Kogawara et
al., 2006), and hence is able to outcompete other species in such environments.
It is a pioneer species, is light tolerant, and can quickly colonise areas, for example, areas that have
1996), gelam generally does not occur on peat soils in Central Kalimantan, although it has been
recorded on shallow to moderately deep peat (1-2 m) in South Kalimantan (Giesen, 1990). There are
few known pests, but it may be attacked by the fungus Cylindrocladium macrosporum and C. pteridis
(Brinkman & Vo Tong Xuan 1988). The tree produces little shade and has little undergrowth.
Photo 6. Natural stand of Melaleuca cajuputi adjacent Nypa fruticans near the mouth
of the Kahayan River in Central Kalimantan; in foreground with the fern Acrostichum
aureum and Eleocharis sedges (24
Annex 2 Cultivation, propagation & production of gelam
The species often regenerates naturally after fires, as the fruits open after fire, spreading the
numerous, tiny, wind borne seeds. The seeds may also germinate underwater, provided that oxygen
levels are at least 4 mg/l, but under flooded conditions seedlings are slow to anchor their roots.
Cuttings of immature wood or slender roots form new plants readily, provided they are kept wet. Fruit-
bearing twigs are dried for two days under shelter/off the ground, after which the fruits have opened
and the seeds can be collected along with the chaff – these should not be separated, as the chaff
facilitates germination; seeds are tiny, with 1000 seeds weighing 30 mg. Seeds should be soaked in
cold water for 24 hours then sown in a seedbed without shade; 70% germination is normal. Once
established, seedlings will tolerate flooding of up to six months, but will stop growing. Under flooded
conditions they will grow for about 50 days, provided that they are not completely submerged. In
Vietnam, the ‘bog’ technique of watering has been adopted to avoid tiny seedlings being damaged by
overhead watering (Doran, 1999). In this technique, trays with medium and seedlings are kept
permanently in water but not submerged or flooded. After about 4 weeks the seedlings are sturdy
enough to withstand overhead watering.
b. Planting & tending
On Java, seedlings are planted at an initial density of 5,000 per hectare, and during the first two years
they may be intercropped with cassava, maize or groundnuts (Doran, 1999). Weeds need to be
removed manually, as these may smother the plants, but also add to increased fire hazard.
c. Growth & flooding
saturated soils the trees are taller and straighter, which is more desirable for timber, though for
leaves/oil production a dryland situation produces better results (Brinkman & Vo Ting Xuan 1988).
Photo 7. A uniform post-fire stand of Melaleuca cajuputi being drained (and
ultimately cleared) for development in South Kalimantan (25
d. Growth & fires
In Thailand, Melaleuca cajuputi is one of the few species to recolonise burnt peatland, as described by
Tomita et al (2000). In Narathiwat, a fire removed the top 25 cm in a shallow peatland (90cm depth)
along with all plants species including underground parts. Recolonisation was by Melaleuca, ferns
such as Blechnum indicum, a host of sedges such as Lepironia articulata, Scleria sumatrana, Cyperus
seedlings appeared 7±6.3/m² three months after the fires, from wind dispersed seeds. After three
years height had increased to 29-187 cm and a cohort of Melaleuca had overcome other species by
1.5 years on average. Elsewhere as well, post fire regeneration results in large, uniform cohorts of
(note the blackened trunks; 1996)
e.1 Natural stands in Australia: Stands in Northern Territory, Australia, have 293 trees/ha, with an
average dbh ranging from 13-62 cm (median 30-35 cm) and an aboveground fresh weight of 1009 kg
(±51 kg) per tree and 263 tons/ha (± 0.3 tons/ha). On ground litter was 582-2176 g/m² (dry weight),
while litter fall had a maximum of 108 g/m² (dry weight; Finlayson et al, 1993).
e.2 Natural stands in Thailand: Samati (undated) found in swamp forests of Narathiwas, Thailand,
extending over 15,200 ha, that aboveground biomass was 32.1 tons/ha, segregated into stems (24
tons/ha), branches (5.5 tons/ha) and leaves (2.6 tons/ha). Net primary productivity was found to be
9.27 tons/ha.yr, of which stems 3.12 tons/ha.yr, branches 1.53 tons/ha.yr and leaves 4.62 tons/ha.yr.
e.3 Natural stands in Kalimantan: In Central and South Kalimantan, gelam is harvested from wild
stands and is not cultivated in any way. Documentation about the gelam industry in Kalimantan is
scant, and economic analyses on gelam systems do not appear to have been carried out in Indonesia.
As a result, gelam forests are generally regarded as unproductive wasteland and are targeted for
conversion (e.g. for transmigration agriculture or oil palm). According to Forestry Department figures
(Giesen, 2009), just over 70,000 ha of gelam forest occurs in the EMRP area of Central Kalimantan.
The main gelam products in Central Kalimantan are poles and fuel wood. Poles are often marketed to
Banjarmasin, and beyond to Java, while fuel wood appears to be mainly for the local market. Locally,
products appear on local village markets and in village stalls. Cajuput oil does not appear to be
produced in the province. Most of the gelam (-related) product harvesting and trade appears to be
carried out by local entrepreneurs and not directly involve the Forestry Department. Attempts in 2004
by the Ministry of Forest at planting Melaleuca cajuputi in degraded areas in South Kalimantan (Desa
Babat Raya, Kec. Wanaraya) were unsuccessful. However, these trials were not evaluated by MoF
and the cause of failure remains unknown, although (from observation of the site in 2007) it is guessed
that it may be related to lack of tending after planting, as there was no sign of recent fires.
e.4 Natural stands in Eastern Indonesia: Natural stands in Eastern Indonesia on the islands of Buru,
Seram, Ambon and adjacent islands extend over about 200,000 ha and figures suggest that annually
about 90 tons of oil are produced annually (Doran, 1999).
Photo 9. Harvesting gelam poles (sinkers!) in the Ogan-Komering lebaks, South
construction, Melaleuca in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam declined from 40,000 ha to only a few
thousand hectares by 1980. In the 1980s and 1990s various Melaleuca rehabilitation projects were
implemented, usually incorporating three key elements: pole-, honey- and cineol oil production. It was
expected that a very productive system could thus be developed, with a very high internal rate of
return (IRR) of 56% (Duc & Hufschmidt, 1993). Melaleuca poles and leaves (for oil production) were
harvested manually, and transported by boat (wet season) or by cart and truck (dry season).
Harvesting was timed to coincide with a period during which labour is not required in the ricefields.
Leaves were brought for processing at a (mobile) cineol oil production plant, while poles will be
transported to temporary holding area near one of the main jetties, from where they were shipped. As
a result of these programmes, the area of Melaleuca increased again to about 16,000 ha by 1986, and
in all a total of 50,000 ha of Melaleuca was re-established.
Many of these sites in the Mekong delta are now abandoned or operating at sub-optimal capacity,
fires had reduced the area to about 3,000 ha by the mid-1990s. Key issues: i) canals providing access
led to peat drying out and high fire risk; ii) no thinning and little maintenance was carried out, so stock
densities were too high, increasing fire risk, but also infestations with swamp ferns Stenochlaena
rice cultivation; iv) local farmers perceive that even low returns from rice on peat (<1 ton/ha.yr) is
greater benefit than long term benefit from Melaleuca (short-term needs must be met); and v) no fire
management due to lack of budget.
When still about 120,000 ha of gelam occurred, about 100 tons of oil was produced annually in the
Mekong Delta (Doran, 1999).
overgrown by the fern Stenochlaena palustris
e.6 Plantations in Java: Production from an estimated 9,000 ha of government owned plantation in
Central Java amounted to about 280 tons in 1993 (Doran, 1999). This is about 31 kg of oil per
hectares per year.