Conflict over forests in Indonesia

February 28th, 2012

Deforestation and drainage of peatlands in Indonesian Borneo

The Indonesian government will soon require logging companies to show that the forests they log aren’t used by other people.

  • In Indonesia, forest land is owned by the government, but local communities often depend on these forests for fruits and nuts, firewood, building material, and other products.
  • In some cases, forests may have been used by generations of local people.
  • But because the government owns the land, it grants forests to logging companies.
  • Logging companies may then come to the forest and cut down all the trees. If local people resist, the logging company may use force &8212; even violence — to evict them.
  • These logging companies usually produce timber or paper and cardboard. Sometimes after cutting the trees, they plant they establish plantations to produce palm oil or rubber. In either case, most of the profits go to the company, not local communtities.
  • Therefore local people often oppose such logging concessions. They fear the loss of resources on which they depend.
  • Because of increasing conflict between logging companies and local communities, the Indonesia government says it will now require logging companies to show that no one is using the land before they start logging.
  • If people are found to be using the land, the logging company will have to come to an agreement with the community. This may lead to the logging company sparing some trees or giving local people jobs. Or the logging company may be prohibited from cutting down any trees.
  • In other parts of Indonesia where local people control the rights to forests, deforestation is lower. This is because people tend to take better care of things that belong to them.
  • Therefore the decision to empower local people may help better protect Indonesia’s forests.



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  • Facts: Coal mining in Mongolia

    February 28th, 2012

    Mongolia is a land-locked country north of China that is historically very poor. But a mining boom may soon cause dramatic changes for the economy — and the environment.

    • Mongolia has extreme weather: during the winter it can be well below zero, while in the summer it can bake. The landscape is barren and windswept.
    • But below the surface lie rich mineral deposits that will make the country very rich.
    • Coal production in Mongolia is currently 16 million tons per year, but will reach 40 million tons per year by 2020 and may climb to 240 million tons per year by 2040.
    • Today about 80% of Mongolia’s exports are minerals, but that is expected to reach 95% soon. The economy is expected to grow at 14-23% a year for the next 5 years, one of the fatest rates in history.
    • The reason for the growth is simple. Mining companies are now invetsting billions of dollars in Mongolia. As mines are dug, hotels, houses, and restuarants are being built.
    • But there are concerns that mining is having some negative impacts in Mongolia.
    • Air pollution is worsening and mining uses a lot of water, which is extremely scare. Some mines occupy areas traditionally used by herders, which is an important source of income.
    • Mongolia’s mining industry is also heaviy reliant on China, which buys most of the minerals it produces.

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