Indonesia is losing its primary forests faster than Brazil is losing the Amazon rainforest, concludes a paper published online this week in Nature Climate Change. The findings suggest that the present Indonesian deforestation moratorium, which began in May 2011, has not been effective.
Tropical forest clearance due to logging and land conversion for agriculture contributes to the emission of greenhouse gases - especially carbon dioxide - and therefore exacerbates global warming. Destruction of unique forest habitats also leads to loss of biodiversity and damages ecosystem services, such as nutrient cycling, that are provided by intact forest. Loss of primary forest is occurring in many developing countries; the case of the Amazon in Brazil being perhaps the best known. In contrast, there has been no consensus regarding the rate and manner of forest loss in Indonesia.
To help fill this gap in understanding, Belinda Margono and colleagues have quantified the increasing loss of Indonesia’s primary forest, a trend that is counter to the declining rates of loss in Brazil. Their results reveal that primary forest loss in Indonesia increased on average by 47,600 hectares per year from 2000 to 2012.