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Deforestation in the World

Human society and the global economy are inextricably linked to forests. More than 1 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods. And forest ecosystems play a critical role in stabilizing the climate; providing food, water, wood products, and vital medicines; and supporting much of the world’s biodiversity.

Despite decreased deforestation rates in some regions, forest ecosystems are still under great threat. According to recent research, 30 percent of global forest cover has been cleared, while another 20 percent has been degraded. Most of the rest has been fragmented, leaving only about 15 percent intact.

Deforestation in Indonesia

Indonesia is one of the most densely forested areas in the world. Close to 40 percent of its landmass is covered in forests. That is changing fast, however, due to the conversion of the land into plantations. More than 10% of all tree cover has now been converted into plantations.

Hover over and interact with this Forest Map of Indonesia to discover the rate of forest loss and gain in Indonesia over the past 15 years:

Deforestation, Biodiversity, and Climate Change

Deforestation, whether caused by land conversion to plantations, the need for infrastructure development, the development of human settlements or other causes, has major impacts on biodiversity. The government and regional communities often still see the issue of biodiversity as a side issue, even though the benefits of biodiversity are crucial for both local communities and society as a whole. Biodiversity is crucial in many sectors, for example in the agricultural sector where biodiversity helps to increase the resistance of crops to the outbreak of disease; or in the field of human health; business and industry; or culture and aesthetic values supporting tourism and providing income to communities; as well as other ecological services. The loss of some of these benefits will cause discomfort or even disasters to the community.

In addition to deforestation, biodiversity is also strongly influenced by climate change. The Paris Agreement, which is an important global treaty to solve the problem of climate change, states that it is important to ensure the “integrity of all ecosystems, including oceans and the protection of biodiversity”. All countries agreed to this agreement, but in practice, there are few details in the Paris Agreement on what individual countries should do to safeguard endangered species and ecosystems in the face of rising temperatures and changing weather patterns.

Scientists have identified thousands of species that have already been affected by climate change, or will likely be in the near-future. A recent study in Science found that 1 in 6 species could face extinction due to climate change-related factors.

Therefore, to protect Indonesia’s biodiversity which is very valuable for the people and the country, it is necessary to identify issues that pose further threats to biodiversity. These problems are among others related to development paradigms that are inconsistent with biodiversity conservation, unsustainable development, and unfriendly to the climate; weak spatial arrangement or land use policy; ineffective management of protected areas or species; weak institutional control and law enforcement; high political economic pressures.

It is also crucial to improve the level of awareness and knowledge of the community as well as policymakers. In this case, the role of journalists to educate and also convey information on issues of biodiversities, deforestation and climate change is very important.

In November 2018, nations across the globe will attend the Fourteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Egypt where biodiversity policy will be discussed on an international level. This is a crucial process to put more pressure on governments across the world to adopt policies which support the goals of the convention, which are to conserve the biological diversity, to use the components of biological diversity in a sustainable way, and to achieve fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.

Arthur Wyns

About Arthur Wyns

Arthur Wyns is a tropical biologist and science journalist who writes about climate change, environment and migration. He manages Programs and Partnerships for Climate Tracker since 2017.