Deforestation in Indonesia

Deforestation in Indonesia


I would like to focus on one of the biggest environmental issues – Deforestation. After reading a few articles about deforestation in different parts of the world, I decided to describe the critical situation in Indonesia, because the results are very alarming.

For a long time, Brazil was the biggest deforester in the world but latest studies show that Brazil has slowed the rate of forest loss in the Amazon by 70 percent over the last decade. Forests in Indonesia, on the other hand are decreasing rapidly and the country has now replaced Brazil as the world’s No. 1 deforester.


Between 2000 and 2005, Indonesia was losing 310,00 hectares of all its forests a year. Between 2006 and 2010, this number increased to 690,000 hectares a year. And it continued to increase in years 2011 and 2012. Then came good news and Indonesia’s rate of deforestation slowed in 2013.

Predictions for next year were negative, especially after Indonesia started expanding palm oil production. In 2014 Indonesia’s rate of tree cover loss rose by 30 % in comparison with 2013. Tree cover loss is the removal or death of trees, regardless of the cause and not accounting for regrowth and tree cover gain.

Indonesia made ambitious commitments to reduce emissions from deforestation and after successful declines in tree cover loss in 2013, the big increase in 2014 comes as a disappointment.

Since the last century, Indonesia has lost at least 15.79 million hectares of forest land, according to a study by US University of Maryland and the World Resource Institute.

We can see that the situation is truly critical and losing so many hectares of forests in so little time could cause a lot of problems for Indonesia in the future.


There are different figures quoted by government and by researchers regarding Indonesia’s deforestation. A new study claims to be the most comprehensive yet and it suggests that nearly twice as much primary forest is being cut down as in Brazil.

I think that Brazil proved that problem of deforestation can be slowly solved or at least get better and Indonesia should try to take notice and try to use similar ways of solving this problem or try to find their own ways that can work in their own environment.

The biggest forest cover loss is being caused by island groups – Sumatra, Kalimantan, Papua, Sulawesi and Maluku. Indonesia is the world’s third-largest producer of greenhouse gases behind China and the US, with 85% of its emissions coming from forest destruction and degradation.


These figures are especially problematic because they suggest that a 2011 moratorium on granting new licenses for clearing or logging of primary forests and carbon-rich peatlands could have been a driver for deforestation. In recent months, government in Indonesia has been trying to improve its forest policy by renewing this moratorium. More corporations have committed not to clear primary forests, and new research suggests protecting forests is economically feasible. Major palm oil companies have taken steps to slow down deforestation as well.

But American tropical forestry advocates and researchers maintain that the nation has a long way to go, arguing that the new satellite data show that Indonesia’s current regulations have gone largely unenforced.


The biggest tree cover loss increased within Indonesia’s rich primary forests. Those are the most valuable for biodiversity and carbon storage. Large scale clearing of certain areas of forests is still legal in Indonesia, though it is likely some of the clearing is illegal.

Indonesia has made an international commitment to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2020. According to Stolle, all that is needed to achieve this reduction is for companies to halt draining and development of peatlands.


Prabianto Mukti Wibowo, assistant deputy minister for forestry in the Economic Affairs Ministry, told a World Bank conference on land and poverty held in Washington, that deforestation was a rich-country concern. He also said, that Palm oil is important to Indonesia’s development because it reduces poverty by bringing roads, schools and other infrastructure to rural communities and generates five million jobs that benefit 15 million people and that the pace of forest loss declined rapidly between 2009 and 2013.

As we can see, deforestation reached a critical situation in Indonesia and there seems to be no actual efficient solution in near future. Hopefully, companies in Indonesia will realize, that deforestation is one of the country’s biggest problems and try to achieve country’s objectives by 2020.



Roman Gdovjak


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