Indonesia, one of the Malay archipelagoes in South East Asia, is home to one of Earth’s most biologically and culturally rich landscapes of rain forests. Containing the largest expanse of rainforest in all of Asia, it is home to over 3,000 animal species including Sumatran Tigers, Pygmy Elephants, Rhinoceros and Orangutans.
In 1900, Indonesia was still a densely forested country, where forests accounted for 84% of total land area. However, a 1990 FAO study found that the forest cover of the country has been reduced from 74% to 56% in the space of 30-40 years. The annual deforestation in Indonesia increased from 17,000km2 to 21,000 km2 from 1997 to 2003. UN Environmental Programme predicts that 98% of Indonesia’s forest area could be destroyed by 2022. Indonesia’s lowland tropical forests, the richest in timber resources and biodiversity, are most at risk.
In Sulawesi, the forestland has almost been entirely cleared by 2000.
In Sumatra, large areas of forests have been cleared, often under the command of the central government, which complies to the demands of multi-national companies to remove the forest and allowing them to carry out their logging activities.
In Kalimantan, “Slash and Burn” practices are most prevalent. Large areas of the forestlands were burned because Kalimantan has vast peatlands, resulting in the spreading of fires that are difficult to extinguish, and burn for a long duration. 70–80% of lowland dipterocarp forest cover has already been removed in logged areas and conversion to oil palm plantations.
These actions are driven largely by the rising consumer demand, transmigration policy, subsistence farming by the locals, government failure and the growing population, which can be said to be the root of all causes.
The mass deforestation resulted in many environmental and social problems, such as Air Pollution, Global Warming, Soil Erosion, Disruption to the Water Cycle, Economic Loss.
To date, Indonesia has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world and only under half of the country’s original forests remain. Although estimates vary widely, conservative studies suggest more than a million hectares (2.4 million acres) of Indonesian rainforest is cleared and lost each year, with about 70% occurring in forests on mineral soils and 30% on carbon-rich peatland forests.
Following is a video on what deforestation is: