Indonesia has 131.3 million hectares of forest (68% of its total land area) (Ministry of Forestry, 2012) ranking it third amongst all countries in terms of total area of tropical forest. Indonesia is of one of the five most species-diverse countries in the world, home to 12% of all mammal species, 16% of all reptile and amphibian species and 17% of all bird species. It contains 33% of insect species, 24% of fungi species and 10% of higher plant species.
However this diversity is under threat. In 2011 Indonesia was the country with the third highest number of threatened species (772 in total) (Orangutan Foundation International, 2011) and the Ministry of Environment estimates that Indonesia loses 20-30% of its biodiversity every year due to forest destruction (Ministry of Environment, 2008). The total forest vegetation in Indonesia equates to more than 14 billion tonnes of biomass, which is estimated to store roughly 3.5 billion tonnes of carbon (World Resources Institute, 2002). Of the country’s total forests, 37% has been reserved as protection forest (forest with the primary function of protecting life support systems), 17% allocated for other uses and 46% for production forests (forest with the primary function of producing forest products), demonstrating the emphasis Indonesia places on forests as a development resource (CIFOR, 2012).
Deforestation rates in Indonesia have fluctuated over the last 20 years but remain high. The Ministry of Forestry estimates that between 1985 and 1997 Indonesia lost approximately 1.7 million hectares of its forest area per year, peaking at 3.51 million hectares per year between 1997 and 2000. This rate dropped to 1.08 million hectares per year in the 2000-2005 period and subsequently rose again to 1.17 million hectares per year between 2003-2006 (CIFOR, 2012). Drivers of deforestation range from small holder shifting cultivation, forest fires and logging to conversion of forest land to other uses, most notably for commercial agriculture including for oil palm plantations. During the 1990s the production capacity of the pulp and paper industries increased by 700%, with the total export value of forest products continuing to rise (ABC, 2002). Illegal logging continues to be a major cause of deforestation. The United Nations estimated that illegal logging occurs in 37 of Indonesia’s 41 national parks (UNEP, 2007) and, at its peak in 2001, illegally logged timber accounted for 80% of the total national harvest (Tacconi et al., 2004).
ABC. 2002. Background information on Indonesia, deforestation and illegal logging. Available here. [Accessed September 2012]
CIFOR. 2012. The context of REDD+ in Indonesia: Drivers, agents and institutions.
MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT. 2008. Status lingkungan hidup Indonesia (State of the environment in Indonesia)
MINISTRY OF FORESTRY. 2012. Statistik: Bidang Planologi Kehutanan Tahun 2011.
ORANGUTAN FOUNDATION INTERNATIONAL. No Date [Online] Indonesian Forest Facts. Available here. [Accessed September 2012]
TACCONI, L., OBIDZINSKI, K., & AGUNG, F. 2004. Learning Lessons to Promote Forest Certification and Control Illegal Logging in Indonesia. Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)
UNEP. 2007. [Online] Illegal Logging Destroying Last Strongholds of Orangutans in National Parks. Available here. [Accessed September 2012]
WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE. 2002. The State of the Forest: Indonesia.