Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Indonesia - Major deforestation problem

Indonesia was at the beginning of the past century densely forested country with forests covering about 85 % of country's area. The rate of deforestation wasn't that worrying all the way to 1970s, and it really started becoming major problem in 1980s rising to about 1 million ha per year, and after 1996 deforestation rate became even more critical with the rate of over 2 million ha per year.
What were causes of such excessive deforestation in Indonesia? First of all Indonesia has already a long history of corrupt political and economic system that regards natural resources only as a source of revenue, mainly for political purposes and of course personal gains.

Forests have helped Indonesia achieve significant economic boom in 1980s and 1990s mostly because of excessive growth in forest-related industry, especially pulp and paper production, where Indonesia is still one of the top world's producers. Industrial timber plantations were seen everywhere, and sustainable development nowhere, and there was of course corrupt political system that even encouraged illegal logging, because of high profits for everyone involved. Lets take president Suharto for instance who appropriated forest resources and afterwards divided them between his family and business partners, this should give you clear picture about the "sustainable development" in Indonesia.

Deforestation has taken critical proportions in Indonesia

Deforestation is till taking heavy toll in Indonesia, and Indonesia is mostly because of deforestation (85% of total emissions) third largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world. Deforestation is the most serious in lush lowlands on island Java. There is great irony that although so many forest have been destroyed in the last 30 years or so, many people in Indonesia still live in poverty, mainly because only few chosen ones were able to cash in on deforestation.

After the overthrow of infamous president Suharto Indonesia has taken first serious steps that should halt deforestation rate, and preserve remaining forests. But this transition hasn't gone very well because corruption heritage is still embedded in Indonesia political structure, especially at regional levels. Without adequate international support Indonesia will lose battle against deforestation. And preventing deforestation worldwide is the first big step countries must make to fight against global warming. Indonesia would make an excellent starting point.

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