Causes for Deforestation in Indonesia: Corruption and Palm Tree Plantation

By Eldeeb, Osama; Prochazka, Petr et al. | Asian Social Science, December 1, 2015 | Go to article overview

Causes for Deforestation in Indonesia: Corruption and Palm Tree Plantation


Eldeeb, Osama, Prochazka, Petr, Maitah, Mansoor, Asian Social Science


1. Introduction

It is estimated that that corruption in the forestry sector reached over Rp 273 trillion in 2011 in Indonesia. (Jakarta Globe 2013) Corruption by government officials linked to natural resource extraction is leading to billions of dollars in state losses annually in Indonesia (Jakarta Globe 2013). One of the most pressing environmental issues possibly related to corruption in Indonesia is deforestation. Deforested land is transformed usually to palm tree plantations. Therefore, it is necessary to examine a relationship between deforestation and palm trees plantation, respectively corruption.

1.1 Deforestation in Indonesia

Deforestation in Indonesia not only possess a significant threat to local biosphere through biodiversity reduction but also influences global climate. Tropical deforestation from developing countries, including Indonesia, contributes to emissions of greenhouse gases. (Margono et al., 2014) This is mainly carbon dioxide, the main cause of global warming. Primary forest clearing also leads to the loss of biodiversity due to the destruction of unique tropical forest habitats. (Margono et al., 2014)

Present understanding of forest change within Indonesia is unclear. A report from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (UNFAO) claims that the rate of deforestation in Indonesia is approximately 0.31 million hectates per year from 2000 to 2005. Same report claims that from 2005 to 2010 roughly 0.69 millions of hectares were lost. A report from the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry provides an estimate of approximately 0.4 million hectares lost between 2009 and 2011. These estimates vary significantly and therefore a study has been conducted that uses spatial as well as temporal data of digital imaginary to show actual deforestation dynamic. A study done by Reference shows that Indonesia is a country with the highest rate of increasing forest covers loss from 2000 to 2012. (Margono et al., 2014) Deforestation is also cited by (Vidal, 2015) where two areas of the Indonesian islands of Sumatera and Kalimantan (the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo) are used as an example to show fastest forest cover losses in the humid tropics. This has according to (Vidal, 2015) implications for carbon dynamics, biodiversity conservation, and local livelihoods.

1.2 Palm Trees Plantations in Indonesia and Deforestation

Agricultural commodities, particularly energy one have gained a lot of significance in international trade (Svatos et al., 2013; Svatos & Smutka, 2012). There is an increase in aggregate global demand for palm oil. This increase is obvious especially in the last several years. (World Watch, 2015) Palm oil is the most common, globally produced palm. Its yield belongs to one of the highest when compare to other crops. Regarding the costs of production and refining, palm oil belongs to the least expensive oils. (World Watch, 2015). Production areas devoted to palm oil belong currently to the most significant contributors of rain forest destruction in Indonesia. According to UNEP (2015), there is a possibility that no later than 2032, most rainforest in Indonesia would be irreversibly degraded. If we examine the speed and volume of deforestation in the last six years, this prediction may seem to be overly optimistic, as oil palm plantations and biodiesel refineries are getting more and more popular. Newest estimates even conclude that only 2 percent of rain forest can be preserved by 2022 with even less forest being saved in the lowlands of Indonesia. (UNEP, 2015)

1.3 Corruption in Indonesia

Corruption linked to the forestry, plantation industries and mining leads potentially to billions of dollars in state budget losses each year in Indonesia. Natural resources are in such a way never-ending income for corrupt officials (Jakarta Globe, 2013). In this case, we are talking about systematic corruption which is created regardless who is the corrupted person. …

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