Indonesia re-enters the Guinness Book of Records for the world’s fastest rate of deforestation

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Indonesia re-enters the Guinness Book of Records for the world's fastest rate of deforestation

For the second year running, Indonesia has the dubious honour of entering the Guiness Book of Records as the country with the highest rate of deforestation. According to the 2009 Guinness World Records, Indonesia’s deforestation rate was 1.8 million hectares per year between 2000 and 2005. This amounts to a loss of 2 percent of its forests each year.

Indonesia’s State Minister for the Environment, Rachmat Witoelar, labeled the report “slanderous”, claiming it used obsolete data on Indonesia’s forests. The Guiness World Records used data from Greenpeace, among others. According to the Indonesian Forestry Ministry, the rate of deforestation was 1.8 million hectares a year between 1987 and 1997. It increased to 2.8 million hectares to 2000, and between 2000 and 2006 the rate was 1.08 million hectares a year.

This is a serious problem for REDD. Whose figures on the rate of deforestation are we to believe? If Indonesia is to get paid for reducing its rate of deforestation, establishing the actual rate of deforestation is going to be crucial. But it seems that task may not be as straightforward as it appears.

Towards the end of September, the UN and Norway launched a REDD programme. In their press release, they wrote: “Indonesia has the potential to be compensated $1 billion a year if its deforestation rate was reduced to one million hectares annually.” If, as the Indonesian government claims, the current rate of deforestation is 1.08 million hectares a year, this would amount to business as usual, more or less.

If we are to rely on the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s definition of forests to establish the rate of deforestation, the world’s forests are in real trouble. Using FAO’s definition of forest, industrial tree plantations, highly degraded forests and even clearcuts (which according to the FAO are temporarily unstocked forests) are all counted as forests. The UNFCCC is currently using the FAO’s definition of forests.

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2 Comments

  1. Actually my SEEBif Initiative would provide Indonesia with a minimum of US$ 9 billion annually; can’t afford a Mars Bar equivalent a week for each G20 Citizens…I think so…….Oh and by the way we would be able to end deforestation with this process. Would it be welcome for the people of Indonesia. Actually yes…go to National Geographic Nov 2008 and get the opinion of Pak Yang of the Barito Dayaks…his feelings and comments are those of the fifteen million in Kalimantan……And the Indonesian Local and Central Governments….well as democracies, they can ligitimately claim revenue from their human communities at a nominal 20-30% rate of revenue through their tax system (this is what happens in democracies and how money is raised to support local and national communities)……

    H’m is this really too difficult a situation for the world to support Indonesia…thereby supportinig its local and rural 170 million population in their communities by allowing them choice achievable human goal development and promoting the end of deforestation (this does not mean the end of using forests) and maintaining both natural evolution within the natural forests and cultural and economica evolution within their wonderful communities…..whilst helping us remove upwards of the goal of 30 Gigatonnes of carbon in the atmosphere and supporting the IPCC’s goal of a limit of 350ppm of CO2 within.

    Wow I wonder if we really want this to come to fruition.
    Makes you think though:)

    Best wishes,

    Nigel Miles
    SEEBif Initiative….

    P.S. Brian May of Queen as an interested scientist is concerned that the SEEBif Initiative would be broadcast throughout all our communities across the globe….He trhough his website says so!!)

  2. And in 2012 the deforestation continues. Time is running out as the big money of plantations companies and coal miners mean that politicians will do nothing. Even Greenpeace has been criminalized in Indonesia.

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