Ashes, Ashes, the Forests Fall Down
Indonesia’s forests are disappearing even faster than expected, according to the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry and Estate Crops, which used satellite imagery to produce new forest cover maps. The Ministry now estimates that the deforestation rate is 1.5 million hectares per year, nearly twice what the World Bank estimated in 1994. Since 1985, at least one-fourth of the nation’s forest cover has been lost, and lowland dry forest, the richest forest in terms of biodiversity, is disappearing at the fastest rate. Illegal logging has become rampant, even in national parks, and now eclipses the level of legal logging. Fires burned more than 5 million hectares in 1997 and 1998, and the large plantation companies that set many of the fires received no real punishment from the government.