A palm-oil plantation at Cigudeg, Bogor—on the western side of the island of Java, Indonesia—has replaced native trees. Photo by Achmad Rabin Taim; license CC BY 2.0.
In fair Indonesia
Where orangutans live;
People wanted the palm oil
Not the gifts their trees give.
Indonesia is a country with many different islands, including Java and Sumatra. Some of those islands have special habitats for plants, trees and wildlife. The rubber tree is one species especially well-suited to Indonesia's climate and growing season.
Like many developing countries, however, Indonesia has environmental problems to solve. Some of those problems arose when people decided to cut-down native trees and replace them with non-native trees (or not replace them at all).
Although Indonesia has a warm climate, oil palm trees were not part of the rain forests which once covered Indonesia's islands. Because oil palm trees produce a valuable oil, which can be used for many purposes, Indonesians decided they would get rid of native trees - sometimes by burning huge sections of the forest - and replace them with oil palm trees.
When we change the way things grow naturally, we create a risk that the change may be a bad one. Cutting-down (or burning) millions of trees - including replacing some of those lost trees with oil palm trees - has created serious problems for Indonesia.
Indonesian land, where rainforests used to grow, is now damaged. Some of the land is very badly damaged. When the land is damaged, plants and wildlife - not to mention people - suffer the consequences.
The loss of so many trees has threatened animals whose natural habitats are in Indonesia. Some of those threatened animals are:
Like other countries with damaged land, caused by cutting-down too many trees, Indonesia is trying to reforest the countryside. Experts who know about these things, however, worry that the reforestation efforts might be too little, too late.
Reforestation, in parts of America, did turn-out to be too little, too late. Let's examine a few of those places.