Deforestation Education

Deforestation in Indonesia

Deforestation in Indonesia has been a massive environmental impact on the country, home to some of the most biologically diverse forests in the world, ranking third behind Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo. As late as 1900, Indonesia was still a densely forested country with the total forest representing 84% of the total land area. Deforestation intensified in the 1970s and continuously accelerated since then. As a result, the estimated forest cover of 170 million ha around 1900 decreased to 98 million ha by the end of the 20th century, at least half of which is believed to be degraded by human activity. At present rates, tropical rainforests in Indonesia would be logged out in 10 years. Illegal share of all logging is ca 80% in Indonesia.

Large areas of forest in Indonesia are being lost as native forest is cleared by large multi-national pulp companies and being replaced by plantations. Forest are often burned by farmers and plantation owners. Another major source of deforestation is the logging industry, driven by demand from China and Japan. Agricultural development and transmigration programs moved large populations into rainforest areas, further increasing deforestation rates.

Logging and the burning of forests to clear land for cultivation has made Indonesia, the world's third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind China and the United States. Forest fires often destroy high capacity carbon sinks, including old-growth rainforest and peatlands. In May 2010 Indonesia declared a moratorium on new logging contracts to help combat this. 

(Check out the page; "About Palm Oil" to learn more about palm oil and deforestation for oil palm plantations.)