#1 The Great Gasp-by : Deforestation

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.


#1 Problems


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!


Forest fire ( Cr. Pexels )


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 (: 


6 thoughts on “#1 The Great Gasp-by : Deforestation

  1. Hey Sherry!

    Thanks for sharing this, your series has allowed to gain a deeper understanding of this environmental issue in Indonesia! This problem also seemed to have a deeper cause, the fact that many countries do not value environmental sustainability as equal to economic progress. Do you think there are any reasons for why Indonesia does not consider these environmental issues you mentioned with enough importance?

    ~ Yalini

    1. Hi Yalini! Great to see you here <3 and thank you for your question!

      I think that the Indonesian government still put a much higher emphasis on economic development because there are still many Indonesian that can barely make ends meet. There is also the problem of income inequality and unequal allocation of resources which further widen the socio-economic gap in the society, which could disrupt the cohesiveness of the society. Essentially, the government's agenda is still pretty much fixated in gaining revenue now in order to progress in the future ( which I think is a mindset that needs to be changed )

      I would argue that it is rather difficult to estimate the valuation and put monetary value in the environment. For example, economic development can be measured in a quantifiable manner using GDP/capita. On the other hand, it is rather difficult to assign a dollar value for environmental issues. One example is the valuation of forests to society. Would we value of forests as a source of commodity, or as a habitat for a wide range of species? The government is also not able to understand the significance of environmental issues as negative externalities that could serve as a market failure, incurring more cost in the long run.

      I think that Indonesia can only progress further sustainably in the long run only after the government become aware of these calculations and considerations for decision making processes.


  2. Hi Sherry,

    Thanks for the interesting read, I never knew that there were so many factors that have to be taken into account when moving (especially environmental factors). It is really quite shocking to see how much land needs to be cleared just for this project.

    You mentioned that if the government decides not to relocate the capital, there will be more funds available to solve environmental issues. Given the issues you have already brought up like slash and burn farming, forest fires and changes to the ecosystem, do you think that the funding alone will be able to prevent this from happening in the future or at least mitigate some of its impacts?


    1. Hi Mark! Glad to see you here <3 I'm happy that you learnt a lot from this post too and thank you for your question!

      Personally, I think that the word "alone" carries lots of weights. Of course, the government should not just do the "funding" but also actively craft policy and invest in infrastructure that are able to mitigate the impact of climate change. However, I do believe that funding is really the main reason why all of these measures could be implemented in the first place. In a sense, money and resources are the most important things that get the conservation effort rolling. If you do know any other important measures that the government could take, do let me know too, yeah!


  3. Hi Sherry!

    This is such an interesting post and I have learned so much from this!

    I was wondering what are your thoughts when the government pledged that they will not disturb existing protected forests and dedicate 10% of the city to be a green open space? Considering that Indonesia ranked 96 out of 180 on the Corruption Perception Index, do you think that if they relocated the capital, would they uphold this promise?

    1. Hi Chloe <3 Thank you for your comment! I personally feel relieved that the government has adopted some environmental-conscious approach in the relocation of the capital. I am aware that Indonesia has a rather low rank in terms of CPI and I am not sure if they are able to uphold this promise, especially considering the fact that they have not really fulfilled their promises before. I am really stunned by this question and I feel like I would not be able to answer this wholeheartedly. I do hope that they will not disturb the existing protected forest and craft stricter policy that can regulate this, though!

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