Indonesia

Population:
242,968,342 (July 2010 est.)
Area:
total: 1,904,569 sq km
land: 1,811,569 sq km
water: 93,000 sq km

With five major islands and 17,501 smaller ones, Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world. The country bridges two continents, is scattered over both sides of the equator and crossroads the Pacific and Indian Oceans. This equatorial land is in the top league of biggest polluters in the world, currently ranked third behind China and the US because of it's intensive and in many cases illegal deforestation. The Ministry of Forestry has a history of corruption with forest protection funds into the billions going astray, sometimes ironically funding more forest destruction. The lucrative slash-and-burn farming practices are uncovering and drying out carbon-rich peat land, creating fires that burn for weeks and gushing gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere. In the 1980’s Indonesia lost around 600,000 hectares of forest per year to deforestation, by the late 1990's the yearly rate had accelerated to around 1.6 million hectares, equivalent to an area the size of Greater London being cleared per month.

Peat land rainforest hosts one of the world’s richest ranges of biodiversity. Now over 140 species of mammals are identified as threatened, with 15 of them including the Sumatran orang utan critically endangered. In 1950 the country was densely forested, within a lifetime the forests of this archipelago are in critical condition with over forty percent cleared in the following 60 years. Indonesia has 6 million hectares of oil palm plantations feeding demand from a world market seemingly unworried about it's sources. Palm oil is found in a vast range of products from chocolate bars to cosmetics, but is difficult for even the most conscientious of consumers to spot as labels often simply state vegetable oil.

In contradiction to its enormous emissions, Indonesia is one of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change with high population densities dependent on a steady monsoon season. With a staggering 80,000 kilometres of coastline and thousands of low lying islands, about one fourth of the 240 million population are at risk from coastal flooding, a worsening scenario as the sea level rises. A rise of 1 metre could inundate around 405,000 hectares of coastal land and drown many low lying islands impacting human populations. Needless to say with 80,000 kilometres of coastline Indonesia's coastal population is dependent on fish. Temperature rise and increased atmospheric carbon will also have an increasing impact some of the world’s most diverse coral reefs.

Man made channels cut through recently burnt rainforest on the road from Pekanbaru to the small village Teluk Meranti. The nutrient rich water is drained to make way for acaccia or palm oil plantations which do not favour the wet conditions of peatland rainforest. In 2006 the deforestation of Indonesia's peatlands released 1,9 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide. Even after it has been burnt, the cleared peatland releases a slow but steady stream of carbon dioxide and other organic gases that were previously locked in its root systems.

Burnt peatlandLoading Palm OilPalm oilRefelcted forest in peat waterThe catchDrying fishIn the air to JambiScarred landscapeCut outDrainingThe draining linePaper and pulp factoryA glimpse of what wasLast standingCut throughIntactOrang centreMother and daughterTrainingForest reintroduction trainingHanging outEndangered intellectualBack in the cageA familiar handPeatland rootsDrinking from the forestOld Peatland ForestFish left out to dryThe Junus familyDomesticated rare speciesChildren of the villageConcernedSistersSwimming in the SerkapPowerlessMohammed YusufDead forestUnique forestFishing hutsLungsCanoeingDeep in the forestStuck in the jungleDark brown waterSteeringLong journey for small catchPeatland forestDiversityReflectionOn the equatorLiving with natureSunriseDeclining fish catchStop the loggingFour generationsRolling upPelangiSunrise over the peatlandJoining protestsThe storm aheadFan coralUnder the surfaceIn warmer watersBleaching habitatSea lifeOn the red listCoral ReefColourful lifeMarine turtleJust above sea levelBleachingJust above sea levelFloodedTraditional dressMangrove protectionWatching togetherDrawing competitionThree generationsIsland sunsetLow tideAfter darkNight fishingHome in the seaSea eagleBiawakIsland fishingSamiah, Thousand islands, IndonesiaGenerationsRima, Thousand Islands, IndonesiaInu, Thousand Islands, IndonesiaSymbiotic life ThreatenedSoft coralShore line protectionHard coralMarine education centerForest of the seaCoral rehabilitationDisappearingThe way to schoolSmog over the cityWater pollutionHarbour slumsUrban areas by the seaShop in the harbourPlaying chessLife in the harbour slumsKids in the harbourPerformance monkeyVulnerable coastDoomed areaPlaying in the wasteLiving in the slumsRickshawsUptown JakartaTraffic in the city centreRubbishDangerousPristine forestDug out canoeFishing villageSunrise over the peatland