News / Asia

Indonesia Still Struggling to Manage Natural Rainforests

FILE - An aerial view of parts of a forest which has been burnt during haze in Indonesia's Riau province.
FILE - An aerial view of parts of a forest which has been burnt during haze in Indonesia's Riau province.
Kate Lamb
Indonesia is home to one of the largest areas of tropical rainforest in the world - and has one of the highest rates of deforestation. Now, signs of progress are being seen in efforts to balance economic growth with conservation of the natural rainforests.
 
During recent decades, millions of hectares of Indonesian forest have been cleared through illegal logging and the creation of plantations for the timber, pulp and paper, and palm oil industries.
 
In 2010, the governments of Norway and Indonesia signed a billion-dollar deal to impose a moratorium on the clearance of peatland and natural forest. The deal was seen as a way to help Indonesia meet its ambitious goal of cutting carbon emissions by 26 percent by 2020.
 
But despite the ban, natural forests have continued to be cleared for industry, in part due to weak governance and rampant corruption.
 
For years scientists and environmentalists have struggled to convince rural Indonesians that protecting forests is in their long-term interests.
 
Scientist Eric Meijaards said the message is now starting to penetrate as people realize there are huge economic costs to destroying the forest.
 
“Large groups of people are starting to work out that the benefits that are being offered, the increased employment opportunities, infrastructure, do not outweigh the costs. Those people are saying that very clearly and this is something the government could use as input,” said Meijaard.
 
Meijaard has spent years mapping people’s perceptions about forest destruction on the island of Kalimantan.
 
Several large companies operating in the oil palm and pulp and paper industries in Indonesia have recently pledged commitments to “zero deforestation,” while the government is also starting to prosecute companies that illegally slash and burn.
 
Fadhil Hasan, the executive director of the Indonesian Palm Oil Association, said that although sustainability won’t happen overnight, the palm oil industry is heading in the right direction.
 
For a start, the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil Standard, or ISPO, will become mandatory by the end of this year.
 
“In 2011, the Indonesian government itself launched the sustainable palm oil [standard] and then hopefully in 2014 all oil palm plantations operating in Indonesia have been certified by ISPO, for sustainable palm oil. So looking forward we are improving,” said Hasan.
 
Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of palm oil, which is widely used in consumer goods such as soap and lipstick, and the industry employs more than five million people here.
 
While the Indonesian palm oil association claims that only a small percentage of plantations are developed in natural forests, indigenous groups argue that forest clearance is coming at their expense.
 
Last May, Indonesia's constitutional court issued a landmark ruling declaring government ownership of customary forests null and void.
 
Rukka Sombolinggi from the Indigenous Peoples' Alliance of the Archipelago said the government been slow to implement the court ruling.
 
As the complicated process to map customary forest gets underway, the government, she said, continues to grant contracts in protected forest areas.
 
“The problem now is that because we don’t have our rights specifically recognized and protected, it is very easy for the government to give permits and licenses to the private sector, private companies, without considering actually there are indigenous people living in this area,” said Sombolinggi.
 
As a result of significant forest clearance, Indonesia is the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases worldwide, behind China and the United States.

You May Like

As US Strikes Syria, China Sees Parallels at Home

Beijing is debating how much support to give international coalition against IS militants and trying to figure out how many Chinese nationals may have joined group overseas More

CDC: Ebola Could Infect 1.4 Million by January

update US health officials say if efforts to curb the outbreak are not increased, cases will soar dramatically by early next year More

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in 5 Countries

US Agency for International Development partners with celebrities to call attention to importance of education for girls worldwide More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid