Indonesia Forests

Defending the Paradise Forests from paper and palm oil companies

Indonesia’s forests are a treasure chest of incredible wildlife. The country is home to between 10 and 15 percent of the world’s known plants, mammals, and birds. But in the last half century, more than 74 million hectares of Indonesian rainforest—an area twice the size of Germany—have been logged, burned, or degraded.

A Sumatran tiger is pictured at the Taman safari Park. In Indonesia, forest destruction for palm oil is pushing Sumatran tigers to the edge of extinction, with as few as 400 left in the wild. Companies must commit to zero deforestation and end their role in tiger habitat loss.

© Paul Hilton / Greenpeace

Indonesia has already lost 72 percent of its intact forests. This is threatening the habitat of species like Sumatran tigers and orangutans, as well as harming the millions of people who depend on Indonesia’s forests for their food, shelter and livelihoods.

It’s also bad news for global warming. Peatlands—including those that form the wetland-like floor of Indonesia’s rainforests—are one of the world’s largest carbon sinks. Indonesia’s peatlands store about 35 billion tons of carbon.

When these peatlands are drained, burned and replace by plantations, it releases thousands of tons of carbon dioxide and sets the stage for devastating forest fires.

Drivers of Indonesia’s Deforestation

Indonesia’s irreplaceable rainforests and carbon-rich peatlands are being destroyed to make products we use—and throw away—every day. Products like paper for our magazines, toilet paper, packaging, and palm oil for toothpaste and chocolate are fueling the destruction.

Palm Oil

If you haven’t heard of it, palm oil is everywhere. That includes our soap, detergents, makeup, biscuits and biofuel, to name a few. It’s cheaper to grow than many of its alternatives, takes up less land space, and has a long shelf life, all of which cause major global brands to rely on it more and more.

Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of crude palm oil, with about 15 million hectares of land licensed for palm oil development.

While palm oil has many uses and benefits, its production can also have serious costs for forests. Palm oil is almost exclusively grown on large plantations, meaning landowners have to clear large patches of forest to make space.

But palm oil can—and must—be produced sustainably. Palm oil production has been part of the livelihoods of local communities in Asia and Africa for decades.

We think palm oil production is best managed by communities and industrial players that protect forests and follow responsible agricultural practices. This way, palm oil companies respect the social, economic and cultural rights of local communities while contributing to economic development.

Pulp and Paper

Thanks to major moves by big companies in recent years, the pulp and paper industry is starting to reduce its contributions to deforestation in Indonesia.

Asia Pulp & Paper’s (APP) Forest Conservation Policy sets a model for the pulp and paper industry. In February 2013, APP announced a Forest Conservation Policy that includes an immediate moratorium on all further forest clearance by its Indonesian suppliers while independent assessments are conducted to establish areas for protection.

If we are to turn the tide of forest destruction in Indonesia, we need many more companies to make commitments to end their role in deforestation. And we have to ensure that those companies that do make commitments deliver on them.

Let’s End Deforestation in Indonesia

We’re calling for the immediate protection of all of Indonesia’s forests and peatlands, paving the way to a deforestation-free future in Indonesia and around the world.

We’re investigating the supply chains of major companies sacrificing Indonesia’s forests for consumer products and exposing those responsible for deforestation. Already, pressure from people like you has led Nestlé, Unilever and other corporate giants to cancel big contracts with suppliers like Sinar Mas.

But our work isn’t done yet.

Today, Indonesia stands at a crossroads. Will it choose to allow industry to relentlessly and unnecessarily expand into its rainforests and peatlands? Or will it embrace a moratorium on all existing rainforest and peatlands with the help of the international community?

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