Author: Fitrian Ardiansyah is a Climate and Sustainability Specialist Based in Canberra, Australia. He spent 14 years working in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, including as the Adviser and Program Director for climate and energy at World Wildlife Fund-Indonesia.
Please find the link to the first part of this article here: http://www.sr-indonesia.com/this-months-issue/indonesia-360/131-revisiting-the-global-role-of-tropical-forest-nations (the complete article can be purchased by subscribing to the journal). This first part of the can also be found below:
Revisiting the global role of tropical forest nations
Rapid development of tropical forest nations has led not only to economic growth but also to environmental degradation and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Situated between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, these nations are home to peatlands, savannas and half of the world’s forests, which are considered among the most valuable ecosystems in the world.
The trade of timber and other products derived from these ecosystems provides substantial foreign exchange earnings for these nations and contributes to global wealth. Such economic gains, however, are accompanied by a high rate of forest loss, which is turn has been identified as a crucial factor in causing flooding, droughts, wildfires and recently, climate change. Striking the right balance between economic development and environmental protection, therefore, is an immediate challenge for these nations and the world.
Tropical forest nations, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), include 23 countries in the Americas, 37 in Africa and 16 in Asia. Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Indonesia are the three largest tropical forest nations, each representing a different continent (Figure 1). The combined total estimated forest area of these three nations in 2010, as reported by the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), is 771.5 million hectares – more than half of the world’s tropical forests. For decades, government policies and private investment in these three nations have been viewed as the root causes of the exploitation of their forests and terrestrial ecosystems. These policies and investments have yielded considerable economic returns. Forests play an important role in the national economies of these three countries and provide livelihoods for local communities.
Figure 1: The Map of Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Indonesia
click picture for bigger size
Source: The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), 2011
In Brazil, a study written by Eustáquio J Reis and Fernando A Blanco and published in 2000 revealed that macroeconomic and regional policies implemented after the 1960s played a decisive role in driving forest exploitation and clearance. For instance, credit and fiscal subsidies to agriculture, supported by an expanded road network, pushed the agricultural frontier, particularly cattle ranching, further into the Amazon, the world’s largest tropical rainforest. In recent decades, however, multiple factors and actors have been considered as the driving forces. These include road, railway and other infrastructure construction, government policies on colonization and subsidies for agro-pastoral projects (mainly cattle ranching), agricultural modernization (associated with the diversification of output towards commercial crops such as soybeans), timber extraction and mining, and charcoal production.
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About Strategic Review:
The Strategic Review is the Indonesian Journal of Leadership, Policy and World Affairs with its editorial board led by Dr Hassan Wirajuda (Former Minister of Foreign Affairs) and its advisory board consists of Prof Juwono Sudarsono (Former Minister of Defense), Let Gen (Ret) Agus Widjojo (Executive Board in the Partnership for Governance Reform), Prof. John Thomas (Harvard Kennedy School of Government USA), Prof. Erhard Friedberg (Sciences Po France) and Prof Arne Westad (London School of Economics UK).
Along with my article, there are other articles published in this edition including those written by Christine Lagarde (Managing Director of the IMF), Dr Dino Patti Djalal (The Ambassador of Indonesia to the US), Dr Muhammad Chatib Basri (the Vice Chairman of the National Economic Committee of the President of the Republic of Indonesia) and Sydney Jones (International Crisis Group). The complete journal can be found at http://www.sr-indonesia.com/