Indonesia is Losing Primary Forest at a Staggering Rate

A new analysis published in Nature Climate Change shows that Indonesia now has the highest rate of loss of tropical primary forest in the world. This means Indonesia deforestation now exceeds the known high rates documented in Brazil.

Huge loss of the primary tropical forest is a result of human presence, decimating the most carbon- and biodiversity-rich type of forest ecosystem.

Belinda Margono and her team (researchers from the University of Maryland) worked to report the overwhelming figure. These analysis map out and quantify Indonesia’s annual loss of primary forest. It is now known that from 2000 to 2012, Indonesia lost more than 6 million hectares of primary forest.

Indonesia has enough lost forest to cover an area half the size of England in twelve years.

In recent years, Indonesia has lost almost twice as much primary forest as Brazil lost in 2012. Perhaps most worryingly, the new data shows that the problem is getting worse: Indonesia's primary forest loss is increasing by an average of 47,600 hectares every year. Working from the previous groundbreaking global analysis led by Professor Matthew Hansen in partnership with Google published in Science 2013 (see the fantastic ‘forest-tracking’ interactive map here), we now have to keep a close eye on Indonesian wetlands - areas which have lost more and more forest each year, often resulting in huge amounts of greenhouse gases being released into the air from the wet swampy peat soils on which the forest grows.


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