Forest destruction, climate change and palm oil expansion in Indonesia

Publication - 29 October, 2007
Forests are vital to life on earth. They are the richest of all ecosystems - covering only eight per cent of the planet (1)and are home to two thirds of all known species of terrestrial plants and animals(2). Millions of people rely directly on forests for food, water, medicines and other basic materials.For these forest peoples the forest defines their culture and way of life. Within developing countries, one billion of the world's poorest people depend upon forests for part of their livelihoods, and as many as 350 million people living in and around forests are heavily dependent on forests for their livelihoods and security (3).

An aerial view of forest destruction near Borneo's Tanjung Puting National Park. Indonesia has already lost about 65 percent of its ancient forests. Here, illegal logging and corruption within the logging industry remains widespread. It is estimated that up to 90 percent of raw timber supplying the country's wood processing industry is logged illegally.

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Executive summary: Forests are also important in helping regulate global climate and weather patterns, critical environmental systems that support life on Earth.Much of the world's original forests have either been severely degraded or have disappeared completely. We are destroying forests at an unprecedented rate, with an area of forest the size of a football pitch cut down every two seconds. Half of the forests lost in the last 10,000 years have met their end in the last 80 years and most of that destruction took place in the last 30 years (4).This is driving major biodiversity loss on earth as well asdestroying the livelihoods of many millions of forest dependent peoples. The current extinction rate of the plant and species is approximately 1,000 times faster than it was in prehuman times (5). Scientists claim that the Earth is in the sixth major extinction event (6) and that extinction rates will further increase ten fold by the year 2050.

Num. pages: 8