Destruction of Indonesia's Forests

Background - 9 October, 2007
The Paradise Forests of the Asia-Pacific stretch from peninsular south east Asia, through Indonesia, to New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Indonesia's forests are being felled at a rate faster than in any other major forested country.

A Greenpeace survey team walk through a fire devastated forest in the Riau region. Palm oil companies are clearing forest and peatlands with fires in preparation for oil palm plantations.
© Greenpeace / Vinai Dithajohn

Indonesia is home to between 10 and 15 percent of all known species of plants, mammals and birds which make up the world's treasure chest of biodiversity. Orangutans, elephants, tigers, rhinoceros, more than 1,500 species of birds and thousands of plant species are all part of the country's natural legacy. But many of these unique forest-dwelling animals, including the orangutan and the Sumatran tiger, are on the brink of extinction.

Most of Indonesia's pristine intact forest landscapes have already been degraded. Seventy two percent of Indonesia's large intact forest areas have already been degraded and 40 percent of its forest have been completely lost.

Pulpwood plantations, timber industries and oil palm plantations, are driving the destruction of Indonesia's forests. Oil palm plantations have massive expansion plans which are being pursued with a 'gold rush' mentality. Palm oil, one of the world's leading vegetable oil commodities, is used in myriad products including food and cosmetics and the industry is licking its lips over the anticipated rapid growth in demand for biodiesel.

Thinking beyond Indonesia, try to imagine an area of forest the size of a football pitch. Now imagine that forest being decimated within two seconds. That is roughly the pace of forest destruction globally. Every two seconds. Wiping out not only plants and animals but the livelihoods of millions of people who depend upon forests for their livelihoods and survival.