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Sumatran OrangutanIn the last decade, Indonesia has lost 60,000 square kilometers of rainforest, damaging prime areas of biodiversity in Sumatra and Kalimantan. 

In 2011, Indonesia passed a national moratorium on logging and plantation concessions. But unlike Brazil, which has used national policy to significantly reduce its deforestation, Indonesia’s moratorium has had no effect at all.

Researchers at the University of Maryland (UMD) analyzed high resolution satellite images of Indonesia and “quantified increasing loss of primary forest during the moratorium, meaning the moratorium has not yet slowed clearing and may in fact have accelerated it.” That’s according to Belinda Margono of UMD and the Ministry of Forestry. Furthermore, “Forest loss in 2012 was higher in Indonesia [840,000 ha] than it was in Brazil [460,000 ha].”

Yet the Indonesian government claims that its policies have reduced deforestation. This contradicts the findings of the UMD, which published its study on Indonesia’s deforestation in the journal Nature Climate Change. They found that “Almost 40 percent of total primary forest loss within national forest lands occurred within land uses that restrict or limit clearing, 22 percent in limited production forests that restrict clearing and 16 percent within conservation and protection forests that prohibit clearing.”

The discrepancy in deforestation metrics arises from the definition of “deforestation.” The Indonesian Ministry of Forestry only measures “forest loss” in areas designated as “forest estate,” with any clearing outside this estate not included in official conservation estimates. Moreover, industrial plantations are classified as part of the forest cover.

In 2012, an estimated 8,400 square kilometers of forest were cleared in Indonesia to make way for new farms and palm oil plantations. This poses a major threat to the native flora and fauna of the region, which contains 10 percent of the world’s plants, 12 percent of the world’s mammals and 17 percent of the world’s bird species. The habitat of endangered animals, such as Sumatran orangutans and tigers, is disappearing.

Norway has promised $1 billion to the country if it can slow the rate of its deforestation.

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  1. […] have funded efforts in Indonesia and Brazil, but I think this is the first time we have entered a deal on a country […]

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