Key issues

Forest loss and land degradation

Indonesia is destroying its forests faster than any country in the world. Recent estimates drawn from satellite imaging suggest that the country is losing around 8,400 sq km of primary, undisturbed forest every year. This is equivalent to more than ten times the land area of Jakarta (740 sq km), or nearly one-and-a-half times the land area of Bali (5,780 sq km).

This loss, along with the degradation and destruction of other vulnerable ecosystems such as peatlands, has two main types of drivers, or causes.

  • Indirect drivers: the socio-economic factors that enable forest areas to be exploited and peatlands cleared in destructive ways. In Indonesia the most significant are unclear land classification and tenure (ownership), ineffective land use planning, and corrupt business and political influences. These all result from poor governance: weaknesses in the official institutions, regulations and processes for managing forests and land.
  • Direct drivers: the human activities that directly result in deforestation. These are often enabled or encouraged by the indirect drivers. In Indonesia the most significant are legal and illegal logging, mining for coal and minerals, and the expansion of oil palm plantations.

Identifying the most important drivers of deforestation and peatlands degradation can be difficult as the drivers interact in complex ways. In some cases, multiple drivers work in combination. Unclear land classification, for example, can encourage corruption, which might lead to a forest being illegally logged, and then cleared for agriculture.

Good governance is vital for sustainable land and forest management. This entails land being managed by competent and accountable public officials using transparent and predictable processes that respect the law and involve civil society fully. The rights of all sectors of the community, including individual and community rights to land, need to be recognized and respected.