The conflict between saving forests or new developments has returned. Rainforests are being turned into smoldering ruins in Sumatra, Indonesia. The Kampar Peninsula was once a thriving rainforest, but has now is becoming almost dead. One of the most biodiverse rainforests in the world is getting destroyed by fires to clear the land. Indonesia does have strict laws governing deforestation, but apparently the laws are not enforced to the degree they should be.
85% of Sumatra’s forests have already been destroyed, and the rest is quickly following suit. An area the size of 50 football fields is destroyed every hour. To really show how important this forest is to the world, the soil of the Kampar Peninsula contains more carbon dioxide than anywhere else in the world. When the forest is destroyed, the carbon dioxide from the soil goes into the air as the deadly greenhouse gas we have all heard so much about. Greenpeace estimates an alarming statistic: if all 1.7 million acres of forest are destroyed, the amount of carbon dioxide released is equivalent to 1.6 billion transatlantic flights.
Destroying these forests is obviously having effects on the local people of Sumatra who rely on the land. They use the wood for fire, building houses, and many other common activities. “If the forest is gone, it means their livelihood is gone.” The villagers are trying to save their precious land, but it can often be hard to compete with the big companies who only think about the money. “There is nothing left to be proud of, if the forest is gone. … We will fight — we will fight whatever company tries to destroy our forest,” Yusuf (a man whose ancestors have lived in the forest for generations) declared.
The companies, on the other hand, are trying to justify this destruction of land. Asia Pacific Resources has said that it will bring 20,000 new jobs and sustainable development to the area. They want to use Sumatra as a model for other areas, meaning they want to deforest other undeveloped areas as well.
These companies, despite whatever justifications they might have, are destroying the lives of the native people who live in the forest, as well as the lives of the world. The ramifications of having that much carbon dioxide emissions released will not be good. They are also destroying one of the most biodiverse forests in the world. As I am not an expert in the field, I cannot say what the immediate consequences of that will be. However, I do know that this could start a long chain of events that count potentially cause endangerment of some species, and possibly extinction for others. Ever since we started building cities, we have been slowly destroying more and more undeveloped land. We have already seen some consequences, such as global warming, so we should look at this trend and do everything we can to reverse it. Deforesting more land is not one of those things we should be doing.