Hello everyone! How’s it going? (:
From last week’s post, we saw the reasons and the benefits of relocating the capital to East Kalimantan. This week, we will see how the relocation of the capital can cause deforestation and its subsequent impact.
The Indonesian Government intended to adopt a “forest city” concept and relocate the capital to Kalimantan, the last great rainforest of Asia. They pledged that they will not disturb existing protected forests and dedicate 10% of the city to be a green open space.
However, I believe that relocating there might be a risky move; forests need to be cleared to build the necessary infrastructure. For construction, the government has set 180,000 hectares aside which is almost 2.5 times the size of New York City!
Deforestation occurs in Borneo where its rainforests have been burned and slashed to make oil palm plantations. In 2010, more than 140 million metric tons of carbon dioxide are released in Kalimantan because the lands are being cleared for oil palm plantations. I believe that when more lands are cleared for the relocation of the capital, this amount will be significantly increased.
Furthermore, due to the aforementioned slash-and-burn practices for palm oil cultivation, Kalimantan is now full of forest fire hotspots. In 2019 alone, 1.6 million hectares of forest and peatland are burned, causing forest fires. Thus, the relocation of the capital can exacerbate this problem. Deforestation causes tropical forest canopy to be disturbed, which will change local micro-climate. Moreover, when the land is drained to support the construction of buildings and roads, the turf would be drier and more vulnerable to fires. This will also subsequently increase the likelihood of more forest fires. Forest fires could also create further problems like haze, which is detrimental to humans’ health.
Hence, given the various detrimental impact, will it be better for the government to relocate the capital to Kalimantan?
If they do not relocate the capital, that means that the government can channel more resources to implement the reactionary and preventive measure to stop the urban environmental problems ( assuming that they would do so ).
If they relocate the capital, it would create greater environmental problems like deforestation, increase in carbon emission ( which could accelerate climate change ), and forest fires. Personally, I think that in the long run, not only will there be higher environmental risks like haze, it also causes a lot of children, infants, and fetal deaths. Hence, the government needs to create a stricter policy and proper planning to ensure that the relocation would not aggravate the pre-existing environmental problems and create new challenges.
That is all for this week! See you next week (: