Deforestation in Indonesia

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I am writing to express my concerns for the growing rate of deforestation due to the pulp and paper industry in Indonesia. According to Science Daily, deforestation is the conversion of forested areas to non-forest land use such as arable land, urban use, logged area or wasteland. Indonesia possess one of the largest areas of tropical forest in the world. Currently, the industry is a vital part of the economy providing employment to over 1.36 million workers with a demand increasing from the global demand for more paper. Whilst electronics reduce the need for paper, statistics still show that the global demand for paper increases by 2-3% every year. So, it is understandable that the Indonesian government has taken advantage of this demand, increasing their production with a goal of increasing production by 2.3 million tons. Consumers appetite and hunger for pulp, paper and furniture in nations such as the United States, Europe, Japan and China are all contributing the loss of Indonesia’s deforestation. However, this increase has created an enormous strain on the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of the country. The suffering has gone on too long. This letter is imploring you to take action, to step up and reduce the increasing world demand for paper.

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The environment has suffered deeply from the increase in demand in the paper and pulp industry, and is now the greatest source of deforestation. Forests are currently decreasing at the rate of two football fields per minute and contribute to the same amount of global warming pollution as all of the transport emissions of the world combined. Since the mid-1990’s the majority of deforestation has occurred on the island of Sumatra. Do you see what you are letting companies do? Recently, Eyes of the Forest has estimated that Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) and Asia Pacific International Holdings (APRIL) cleared 2 million hectares of forests in Riau, a province in Sumatra, which accounts for nearly half of the provinces recent forest loss. APRIL has refused to agree to an environmental protection policy and destroys roughly 600,000 hectares of tropical forests a year. Why do people like you, people in power, people who have the ability to help make a difference continue to let this happen? Furthermore, if this does not call you to action, Greenpeace has reported that 76-80% of logging that occurs in Indonesia is illegal. Aside from this, Indonesian rainforests are home to a great portion of the world’s plant and animal species. This includes 10% of the word’s flower plants, 12% of all mammal species, 15% of all reptiles and amphibian species and 17% of all bird species. These forests on the island of Sumatra are the only place where elephants, tigers, rhinos and orangutans can peacefully coexist. These species play a vital role in the ecosystem shown by the orangutans which disperse seeds throughout the forest and enables them to stay lush. Are we really willing to sacrifice all of this for paper? Why must we do this when we have technology and electronics which are becoming more and more accessible. I am not asking you to completely eradicate paper, merely suggesting that we can begin to rely less on the paper and pulp industry and start to implement new technologies that we save our planet.

Aside from the detrimental impacts the paper and pulp industry have on the environment, it also has economic effects as well. Whilst the government is gaining money from profits of the industry, production costs are relatively high due to the expensive gas prices. Indonesian pulp and paper companies have to pay gas prices that range between $9-$11 US dollars per British Thermal Units. (a measure of the energy content in fuel), whilst other Asian countries pay below 6 US Dollars. Aside from this, products sold by APP and APRIL have been sold internationally for years. But, in 2009, Greenpeace, the Rainforest Action Network and WWF created a campaign against companies that buy paper and pulp products from these companies. Since then, companies in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and United States have stopped buying from APP and APRIL creating a massive drop in the economy. In addition to this, the tropical forests in Indonesia are destroyed by fires each year which amounts to a loss in forest capital valued at US $45 billion. By destroying all of the forests, possible future gains, profits and employments that could have been achieved under sustainable management for paper and pulp products disappear. I understand the need to sell paper and pulp products but what is not necessary is that deforestation has to become a by-product of these industrial attempts. I understand that money is important, but must we really cut down trees to make money.

Furthermore, deforestation in Indonesia has impacted the local residents in an extremely negative way with many long-term impacts. In Marcus Colchester’s book ‘The Struggle for Land and the Fates of The Forests he says that a deforestation, in other words, is an expression of social injustice. By turning the forests into industrial grounds, the indigenous people who have lived and cared for the forests for centuries will be forced to relocate to another area of forest. Who knows if this will even be possible. Statistics show that are the current rate of deforestation (1.91% per annum,) indigenous people will have to relocate out of forests completely, the mere basic ways they live their day to day lives will be disrupted. They will become displaced from their social institutions, especially sacred ancestral areas, resulting in traditional lifestyles, customs, and religious beliefs being lost. Aside from this long-term impact, immediate effects of deforestation include the loss of ecological services that the forests provide. These services include erosion prevention, flood control, water treatment, fisheries protection, and pollination functions. All of which are vital but are especially important to the poorest people who rely on the services for their everyday survival. This should not be the case, nobody should suffer from these consequences, the solution only available through the reduction of paper.

To conclude, the Indonesian forests should no longer be a victim of our industrial advances. They have paid the economic, social and environmental costs at our disposal. By destroying these forests, we humans, people like you and me risk our own quality of life and play with the stability of climate and local weather, threaten the existence of other species and devalue these treasured services which are provided by biological diversity that forests in Indonesia create. Are you really willing to risk all of this? Please, with power in your hands, help reduce the world’s demand for paper one step at a time.

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Deforestation in Indonesia. (2020, Apr 22). Retrieved January 29, 2023 , from
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