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Deforestation in Indonesia: Is Sustainable Palm Oil Possible?

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  1. Introduction
  2. Palm Oil Production in Indonesia
    1. Palm oil on the International Market
    2. Palm Oil Usage in Europe
    3. Indonesian Policies to Stimulate Palm Oil Production
    4. Recent and Increasing Demand for Palm Oil
  3. Ecological Impacts of Palm Oil Agriculture
    1. Understanding Peat Soil
    2. Rapid Expansion of Deforestation
    3. Danger to Wildlife
    4. Slash and Burn Processes and Displacement of Local Populations
  4. Addressing the Problem: Indonesia after Suharto, National and International Actions
    1. National Actions
    2. International Actions
  5. Possible Solutions: Sustainable Palm Oil?
  6. Conclusion

Indonesia is an archipelago in Southeast Asia; its geography is defined by over 17,000 islands, the surface area is about 1,920,000 square kilometers, and its capital is Jakarta. Indonesia has an estimated population of 230 million people and a GDP worth $ 540,274 million . The secular and democratic republic is now the most predominant Muslim country in Asia. Since the 1970s, the country has enjoyed relative political stability under the dictatorial regime of General Suharto and expanded economic development; attributed part to a policy of liberalization and growth in production. Thus, Indonesia has been the leading producer of palm oil worldwide since 2006 . The revenue created by the industry allows Indonesia to be part of the World Trade Organization and the only country in Southeast Asia to be a member of the G20.

Despite such expansion, the economic development of Indonesia has its dark side. Since the 1990s, Indonesia has been the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases worldwide with 2,786 million metric tons of CO2 in 2000, coming in right behind behemoths such as the United States (4,808) and China (3,375). Deforestation for the purpose of palm oil production is the main cause for this massive level of carbon emission. According to the World Bank, forest area in Indonesia diminished from 978,500 sq. km in 2000 to 885,000 sq. km in 2005. In more recent years, deforestation has continued during the 2000-2005 periods where Indonesia recorded the second biggest net loss of forest cover, with 1.5 million hectares lost annually, as recorded by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

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