When I was a child,
I often dreamt of standing alone
in the middle of jungle,
where was an utopia coving with green and forest areas,
surrounded by many kinds of unknown plants and animals.
Driving around the bumpy yellow soil road for a long journey,
I finally encountered my childhood destination.
There were only burning trees and weeds…
Dry and cold,
A vanishing scenery.
Just as I turned into the meaningless land,
The colour of my dreamland is not green any more,
fulfilled with gloomy blue.
When I realize the truth about my jungle,
my childhood dream disappears into the blue air
All but reminds dystopia for wild animals losing their home.
Deforesting in Kalimantan, Indonesia
Despite widespread logging and development encroaching on Jungles, Indonesia still has large forest reserves – 10 % of the world’ remaining tropical rainforest. The government policy of selective logging and reafforestation is all but ignored and the forests are disappearing at a rate of up to two million hectares per year. The government has plans to control log exports to keep logging at a sustainable leave, but any task of environmental protection is compounded by the fact that the majority of logging is believed to be illegal, and only 10% of wood is grown in plantations.
In 1997, after prolonged dry spells, massive forest fires broke out in Kalimantan, blanketing the region in choking smoke. The fires accompanying fires in Sumatra, prompting rebukes from Singapore and Malaysia, whose cities were also affected by the haze. Reported as the greatest forest fires ever recorded and the greatest ecological disaster the world has seen (97,000sq km were destroyed), the truth is they have become a regular occurrence. Huge forest fires burnt out of control in both Sumatra and Kalimantan in 1991 and 1994 and the ‘Great fire of Kalimantan’ in 1983 destroyed 35,000 sq km of rainforest. The government as always, blames shifting ‘slash-and-burn’ cultivators, but outside experts say the fires are triggered by the waste wood and debris left by loggers, setting of peat and coal fires beneath the ground which bourn for months.
However, many of the fires were a result of the slash-and-burn agriculture practiced by some of Kalimantan’s indigenous people. Despite the 1997 presidential ban this method is the fastest and cheapest way to clear land. Plantation companies also use fire to prepare land for planting. The ferocity of the fires was greatly exacerbated by the unusually dry conditions caused by El Nino. The unmitigated catastrophe had a devastating impact on the environment, wildlife, human health and the region’s economy.
With large areas of forest and peatland destroyed, wildlife and endangered species faced greater risk. The incidence of human respiratory disease rose dramatically in affected areas. Rain becomes dangerously acidic, causing damage to freshwater and marine ecosystems. Furthermore, biomass burning is a major source of gases in the atmosphere that contribute to global warming.
The fires burned out of control again in 1998, fuelled further by a second year of El Nino, the length drought affected food supplies, worsening the plight of rural communities already reeling from the impacts of fires and the Asian economic crisis.
Indonesia has a history of fire-related disasters such as The Great Fire of Borneo in 1983. The Association of South East Asian Neighbors (ASEAN), along with other world nations have requested that Indonesia intensify efforts against slash-and-burn practices and encourage zero burning by the plantation industry.