Indonesia’s Burning Issue: Why Deforestation Continues to Decimate the Nation Despite Decades of Environmental Policy

First name: 
Last name: 
Class Year: 
John Wargo
Essay Abstract: 
The forests of Indonesia are being lost at an unprecedented rate due to rapid agricultural expansion. By examining Indonesia’s past development policies and recent data on land-use change, it is apparent that the confluence of government transmigration policies, agricultural subsidies, and a rising global demand have influenced the growth of commercial agriculture in the country, making it the single largest driver of land-use change. The nation’s carbon-rich peatland forests are being drained, deforested, and burned to accommodate the expansion of Indonesia’s palm oil industry, ultimately threatening the nation's forests, regional public health, and the global environment. Analysis of this new data demonstrates that the various causes and impacts of land-use change are well documented and well understood. However, despite a robust scientific understanding of the problem, deforestation has continued unabated into the 21st century. By analyzing various policy initiatives made at the regional, national, and corporate levels that target the causes and impacts of Indonesia’s deforestation issue, this paper explores the limitations of current management approaches in an attempt to understand why deforestation continues to decimate the nation’s tropical peatland forests despite decades of targeted environmental policy.