Indonesia plans to destroy another 14 million hectares of forest

How big is 14 million hectares of forest?  Imagine an area five times the size of Belgium.  Or imagine 28 million football fields.

  Expect lots more forest devastation in Indonesia  (photo by William Laurance)

Expect lots more forest devastation in Indonesia (photo by William Laurance)

That's how much native forest Indonesia plans to fell by 2020, mostly for industrial pulpwood and oil palm plantations -- and mostly on the mega-diversity islands of Sumatra and Borneo, where vast expanses of forest have already been lost in recent years.

Indonesia has become the world's biggest forest-destroying nation, overtaking Brazil for that dubious honor.  Annual rates of forest loss in Indonesia accelerated markedly from 2000 to 2012.

The plan to clear another 14 million hectares of native forest was confirmed last week by Hadi Daryanto, secretary-general of Indonesia's Ministry of Forestry. 

Much of the forest to be converted has been selectively logged, but recent studies have shown that such logged forests still sustain very substantial biodiversity and carbon storage, and still perform most of the important hydrological functions of old-growth forests.

In recent years Indonesia has accepted up to $1 billion in funding from Norway to help slow rates of forest loss and to improve forest management, in order to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. 

This latest announcement has many shaking their heads and wondering just what Norway's generous funding has actually achieved