By Danielle Boobyer
For months, forest fires raged across Indonesia bringing the world’s attention to the country’s devastating forest destruction. Both people and orang-utans were endangered as the fires raged and a thick, choking haze swept across Southeast Asia.
These forest fires were a legacy of decades of destruction by palm oil and paper companies. Despite ‘no deforestation’ promises held by companies, forests are still being trashed. Here’s 10 shocking facts showing the scale of Indonesia’s forest destruction, and why it needs to stop now.
1. Indonesia now has the highest rate of deforestation of any country in the world. A quarter of Indonesia’s forest has been destroyed in the last 25 years alone.
2. That’s a massive 31 million hectares, an area almost the size of Germany.
3. Plantation industries (that’s palm oil and paper companies to you and me) are the main drivers of this destruction. Almost 40% of deforestation between 2011 and 2013 happened in land used by these industries.
4. Deforestation is pushing the orang-utan closer to the brink of extinction, with 4% of what remains of the animal’s Indonesian habitat lost in just two years (2011 – 2013).
5. Orang-utans aren’t even safe in their remaining habitat, with half of this forest opened up for destruction by companies.
6. This destruction shows no signs of stopping, with the Indonesian government identifying around 15 million hectares of forest available for trashing by companies.
7. This year’s forest and peatland blazes highlight how Indonesia’s forest are a global climate emergency, with the fires emitting more greenhouse gases on some days than the entire U.S.
8. Millions of people across South East Asia have been affected by the thick, choking haze emitted from the fires. Over 110,000 people die prematurely each year as a result of this toxic air pollution.
Credit: Coconuts TV
9. These fires threatened a third of the world’s wild orang-utans.
…. including orphaned Otan – whose heartbreaking story touched all of us.
10. There’s a clear link between deforestation and Indonesia’s forest fires. Around 36% of fire hotspots detected are located in areas used by palm oil and paper companies.