Sustainability in Indonesia´s Rainforest

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The concept of ‘Just Sustainability’ incorporates not only environmental sustainability but also a need to strive towards social justice and equity. According to Agyeman sustainability is “the need to ensure a better quality of life for all, now and into the future, in a just and equitable manner, while living within the limits of supporting ecosystems.” (Agyeman et al. 2003 as cited in Agyeman 2005: 43) Both the desire for sustainability and development can be cause for many social justice and human equity issues, but in order to fulfil the idea of ‘Just Sustainability,’ all of these things need to be taken into account. (Agyeman 2005: 43) An example of how social justice and equity needs to be addressed alongside a sustainability plan for the environment is the deforestation of rainforests in Indonesia.

Forty years ago, Indonesia was known among scientists of human ecology as a land with exemplary sustainability in its agriculture and industry (Henley 2008: 273). However, a growing and uneven population distribution, large socio-economic inequalities, and a recent history of corrupt governing have led to severe problems in the management of its natural resources (O’Conner 2004: 320). Primarily, this refers to the management of Indonesian rainforests. Globally, tropical rainforests are like carbon sinks, storing 46% of the world’s living terrestrial carbon. Due to this, deforestation causes approximately 25% of the world’s total carbon emissions (Danielson et al. 2008: 349). Indonesia itself has a rapidly depleting supply of rainforests. In the fifty years from 1950 – 2000, Indonesia lost forty-percent of its rainforests, decreasing from 162 million hectares to just 98 million hectares. Current estimates state that from 1996...

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