The Jakarta Post
Millions of more hectares of forest across the country are likely to be destroyed in the near future despite a decline in the deforestation rate over the past decade, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
The WWF on Tuesday released its 2015 Living Forests Report, projecting that between 2010 and 2030 around 35 million hectares of forests in Kalimantan, Sumatra and Papua would gradually disappear mainly because of rapid agricultural development.
'These three fronts are where the bulk of global deforestation is expected to take place in the next two decades under business-as-usual scenarios and without interventions to prevent losses,' WWF International Forest Program director Rodney Taylor said on Tuesday in Central Jakarta.
Kalimantan is predicted to see the biggest forest losses, amounting to 22 million hectares, because of the past decade's significant expansion of large-scale oil palm plantations, which currently cover 11.7 million hectares in the country, according to the report.
WWF Indonesia policy and transformation director Budi Wardhana said that Kalimantan had lost almost half of its forests in the past decade.
'And half of what's left can be destroyed in the near future. Oil palm plantations are the main cause,' Budi said.
Meanwhile, 7 million hectares of forests on Papua will disappear as up to 10 million hectares of them are set to be cleared for massive development of agricultural products, the report shows.
Budi said that Papua was facing increasing deforestation threats even though it retained significant forest areas.
'Deforestation rates in the region can surge if current proposals for agricultural development are realized,' Budi said.
The report further shows that 5 million hectares of forests on Sumatra Island will be destroyed because of the expected expansion of oil palm plantations by small-scale producers.
Budi said that this was driving deforestation even into protected forests.
'More than half of the forests have been cleared and what remains is at risk from land clearing for oil palm plantations,' he added.
Based on the report, the overall deforestation rate in the country has declined from around 2 million hectares to 0.5 million hectares per year in the past decade, with deforestation mainly taking place in areas not intended for forestry purposes.
'If we look at the graphic, the deforestation rate has indeed declined, but if we see the factors that have caused forest losses, we can say that the rate is likely to increase,' Budi said.
'And deforestation has also hit 13 percent of protected and conservation forest areas,' he added. (alm)
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