Incorporating 17,000 tropical islands, Indonesia is one of the world’s richest areas of biodiversity. However, according to the Jakarta Post, over half of this biodiversity remains unrecorded with only 20 of the more than 400 regencies in the country recording species.
Indonesia is one of the 17 largest biodiversity hotspots on the planet, but we have not recorded most of it,” the deputy assistant of biodiversity conservation at the State Environment Ministry, Utami Andayani, told The Jakarta Post, adding that, “it is difficult for us to complain if other countries exploit our biodiversity for commercial purposes such as medicine because of the lack of data to prove the species are from Indonesia,”
Many of these species may vanish without ever being known. Indonesia’s forests, and in turn its species, are facing unparalleled pressures. Rampant deforestation for tropical wood, oil palm plantations, mining, and fuel have taken a great toll on Indonesia’s environment. Fifty years ago 82 percent of Indonesia was covered with forests. As of 2005 that percentage has dropped to 48 percent. Illegal logging is a huge issue in the nation: even its protected areas have been infiltrated in the past.
Indonesia is home to over 30,000 recorded species of plants and over 3,000 mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Its number of recorded mammals—515—is second only to Brazil.
Indonesia is the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases (after China and the United States) largely due to the deforestation of its rainforests and the destruction of its peatlands.
(01/24/2010) From 2003-2006, Java lost approximately 2,5000 hectares a year (10,000 hectares of forest in total) according to the Forestry Ministry. Despite the rate of loss being far lower in Java than other Indonesian islands (such as Borneo, Sumatra, and Sulawesi), Java is particularly threatened because there is so little forest left. If the past rate of deforestation occurs from 2007-2010 then by the end of the year conservation organization Pro Fauna predicts only 10,000 hectares of rainforest will remain on the island, leaving a number of unique and endangered species in deep trouble.
(01/19/2010) An activist group linked General Mills to destruction of rainforests in Southeast Asia in dramatic fashion on Tuesday, when it unfurled a giant banner, reading “Warning: General Mills Destroys Rainforests”, outside the company’s Minneapolis headquarters building.
(01/19/2010) A study issued by Indonesian government recommends a moratorium on peatlands conversion in order to meet its greenhouse gas emissions target pledged for 2020, reports the Jakarta Post. The report, commissioned by the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas), says that conversion of peatlands accounts for 50 percent of Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions but only one percent of GDP. A ban on conversion would therefore be a cost-effective way for the country to achieve its goal of reducing carbon emissions 26 percent from a projected baseline by 2020. But the recommendation is likely to face strong resistance from plantation developers eager to expand operations in peatland areas. Last year the Agricultural Ministry lifted a moratorium on the conversion of peatlands of less than 3 meters in depth for oil palm plantations. Environmentalists said the move would release billions of tons of carbon dioxide.