The Rainforest


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Deforestation in Borneo and Sumatra

Borneo is the largest island in Indonesia and the third largest in the world, home to 18 million people. A century ago, most of Borneo was covered in forest but only half remains today; over a third of which have disappeared in the last 30 years. A 2012 study by WWF projected that if current deforestation rates continue, 21.5 million hectares will be lost between 2007 and 2020, reducing the remaining forest cover to 24 per cent. If this is the case, then Borneo, the world’s third largest island could lose most of its lowland rainforests outside of protected areas by 2020.

Sumatra is the world’s sixth largest island, home to over 50 million people, the forth most populous island in the world. The rainforest of Sumatra is highly endangered and is disappearing faster than the other forest in Indonesia. Charities are working hard to protect the tropical lowland rainforest of the Leuser Ecosystem in North Sumatra; the last place on Earth where orangutans, rhinos, elephants, tigers and sun bears roam side by side.

How Does this Impact Us and Our Planet?

Our global demand for palm oil, hardwoods, paper and the natural resources of Indonesia combined with unsustainable practices is causing alarming deforestation rates which result in huge negative impacts locally and globally for people, animals and the climate.

The Local Effect on People

The forests reduce soil erosion, landslides, flooding and drought, whilst also providing medicine and food and so loosing the rainforest is having a huge effect on locals already.

According to the authoritative Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity initiative, the forests of Indonesia provide innumerable services, which account for 75% of the GDP of Indonesia’s rural poor. Currently 99 million Indonesians are dependent on the rainforest for their livelihoods, accounting for 21% of Indonesia’s GDP. For many centuries indigenous people have lived in harmony with the rainforest and been sustained by them and only now is their economic value being realised as the continued clearing is also causing serious economic loss.

Mass deforestation is causing skyrocketing environmental and social problems. Social conflict between communities that depend on the forest and large corporations is rife. Pesticides are polluting waters and local soils. Burning to clear rainforest creates thick smoke, creating public health alerts and the shut down of regional air traffic.

The Effect on Wildlife

The rainforest has become fragmented from deforestation. Large animals such as Orangutans and Elephants require vast, in-tact areas in order to survive. Borneo and Sumatra have many critically endangered species, such as the Orangutan, Pygmy elephant, tiger and rhino. Wildlife trade is a major problem too. The growing number of roads from the logging industry, through protected areas has facilitated easy access for poachers. 

Global Impact 

Rainforest and peatland absorb and store billions of tons of carbon and so loss of it releases huge amounts back into the atmosphere, which creates significant impacts on the global climate and therefore a significant impact on us! Indonesia is the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, with 85% of its emissions coming from the degradation and loss of rainforest and peatland.