Indonesia’s rainforest is among the most bio diverse in the world, raking 3rd in species diversity behind only Brazil and the Congo. The cutting down of the forest is also responsible for placing Indonesia at 1st when it comes to deforestation in the world rankings, overtaking Brazil. This has also lead Indonesia to becoming the 3rd worst emitter of greenhouse gasses in the world. In fact, 20% of all greenhouse gas emission comes as a result of deforestation. To put that in perspective it accounts for the same amount of emission as all of transportation combined. Not exactly the kind of rakings we want.
Despites efforts by the government to end contracts for clearing forest, the problem continues to gather pace. Illegal logging is responsible for 80% of forest clearing in the country. The culprits tend to be multinational cooperation’s. The cut trees are often replaced with massive palm oil, or paper plantations, killing the biodiversity, and creating species collapse. Indonesia is the biggest exporter of palm oil in the world. The palm oil companies went as far as giving awards for every orang utan killed. Elephants have also been subject to poisoning.
Corruption runs rampant in the forestry ministry, making the laws sanction by the government to be practically useless, with no change in deforestation despite the introduction of new laws. This corruption stems all the way back to the 60s when the Suharto administration seized forest lands and named them state lands. They then proceeded to sell them to multinational corporation’s.
The forest and animals aren’t the only ones to suffer from the deforestation. Indigenous people are also being force out of their natural habitat. This has caused not just displacement but also starvation, and has led to stealing, which has caused the people to be further ostracized. Security forces trained by the police regularly patrol the land and use extreme measures to keep them out. Regard for them is non-existent in the quest to ever expand profit for these multinational companies.
Species biodiversity is also important for medical purposes. The rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria has scientist scrambling to find alternative cures. To find these cures we need to study a huge variety of species, most of which live deep in the jungle. The destruction of these species means we could possibly go back in our medical progress.
Moving away from the forest to the city, the effects of this catastrophic practice can even be seen in neighbouring countries. Singapore is regularly subjected to smog caused by the burning of forest in Sumatra.
Palm oil is ubiquitous in products. Soaps, cookies, crisps, cakes, noodles, lotions, the list can seem endless. It is estimated that 50% of the product of supermarket shelves contain palm oil. Palm is ever present because of it’s versatility, and cheap price point. The plant produces more per square meter than any other oil. These prospects may mean that the most realistic solution could be to move on to sustainable palm, and a rigorous regulation, and labelling.