Public Discussion: A Perspective of Grassroots Reporting on Deforestation in Indonesia

Deforestation in Indonesia is a long-standing, complex problem. From 2001 to 2021, Indonesia lost 4.12 million hectares of forest cover, according to Global Forest Watch. Deforestation has brought not only widespread ecological losses, but also profound social and economic losses. There are further impacts, such as the local food crisis, stunting, and unequal climate justice experienced by Indigenous people.

Currently, Papua’s forests are also facing threats. About 3.5 million hectares of Papua’s rainforests have been granted concessions for various agricultural purposes. Is the expected economic development really an equal trade off to the loss of ecological, social and economic well-being at the grassroots level in Indonesia?

In the midst of efforts to reduce deforestation rates, local communities in various forests in Indonesia are starting to become aware of the ecological loss they are experiencing. Efforts to implement monocultures in productive forests have utilized coffee as an environmentally friendly commodity due to its dependence on forest quality.

Forestry reports conducted by grantees in the Rainforest Journalism Fund (RJF) and Rainforest Investigation Network (RIN) initiatives at the Pulitzer Center have conveyed realities on the ground that specialists and the wider public need to know. There is important information, for example how children in the remote village of Merauke experience hunger in the food estate area, or the great efforts made by the Mandailing Natal community to maintain the green forest of Ulu Pangkut in North Sumatra.

With these reports, Pulitzer Center and Research Center for Climate Change University of Indonesia (RCCC-UI) have been made some public discussion to share that findings with students and researchers. The discussion were held on Ruang Terapung, Library of Universitas Indonesia, at Jun 22, 2023. The speakers who participated in the discussion were Prof. Jatna Supriatna (Head of Institute for Sustainable Earth and Resources (I-SER) FMIPA UI/Professor at Department of Biology FMIPA Universitas Indonesia), Prof. Dr. Budi Haryanto (RCCC-UI), Ahmad Arif (RJF Grantee), Prayugo Utomo (RJF Grantee), Bonefasius Gebze  (Representative of Indigenous Community of Kampung Zanegi, Merauke, Papua), and Dr. Mochamad Indrawan  (RCCC UI).

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