Six years after Indonesia passed a forest moratorium aimed at slowing unsustainable agricultural expansion into primary forests and peatlands, tree cover loss remains high, according to the latest satellite data from the University of Maryland and Google, available now on Global Forest Watch. The 2015 tree cover loss data from the Global Land Analysis & Discovery (GLAD) lab at the University of Maryland — the most recent annual global data available — show tree cover loss in Indonesia remained high between 2001 and 2015, though that doesn’t fully reflect the devastation of forest and peatland fires in late 2015. Tree cover loss refers to the loss of any trees, regardless of cause or type, from tropical rainforest to tree plantation. For this analysis, we calculated tree cover loss within Indonesia’s primary forest data, which shows intact and degraded natural forests of five hectares (12 acres) or more. Forest cover loss in Indonesia peaked in 2012 at 928,000 hectares (2.3 million acres), dropped significantly in 2013 and then increased in 2014 and 2015 to 796,500 hectares (2 million acres) and 735,000 hectares (2.8 million acres), respectively. Here’s a look at the trend between 2001 and 2015.
Kalimantan: Almost half the national forest loss in 2015 occured in Kalimantan, reaching 323,000 hectares (798,000 acres). Massive expansion of oil palm plantations into forests starting in 2005 may well have been a factor.
Sumatra: Forest loss in Sumatra dropped significantly from 2014 to 2015, but that because there are no more accessible primary forests to cut. The map below shows that the remaining 321,000 hectares of primary forest in Sumatra are located along steep slope, mountainous forest regions along Bukit Barisan that are difficult to reach.
Papua: Forest conservation efforts should be focused in Papua Island, home to about a third of Indonesia’s remaining rainforests, which provide habitats for biodiversity and livelihoods for villagers. Forest cover loss increased in Papua and West Papua provinces; 2015 showed the highest forest cover loss since 2001.