Environmental Issues Faced by Indonesia

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Indonesia is a country in Southeast Asia, between the Indian and Pacific oceans. It is the largest island country in the world, with more than 17,000 islands, and at 1,904,569 square kilometres. With more than 261 million people, it is considered to be the fourth most populous country in the world. More than half of the country’s population lives in the island ‘Java’. As far as the government in Indonesia is concerned, it is a presidential, constitutional republic with an elected parliament. Jakarta is the country’s capital. The majority of the country’s population speaks Indonesian. Furthermore, 87% of the population belongs to Islam religion. ‘Indonesian rupiah’ is considered to be the official currency. According to the Human Development Index, Indonesia has obtained medium human development and it has been ranked 116th among 189 countries in 2018. Thus, this country is regarded as a developing country. Notwithstanding the country’s high population and densely populated areas, Indonesia is highly rich in the areas of wilderness which involve a higher level of biodiversity and it has been ranked 3rd the Earth’s most biodiverse countries. As far as economic status of this country is concerned, it is the largest economy in Southeast Asia.

In moving on to environmental issues, they simply mean harmful aspects of human activity on the biophysical environment such as deforestation, air and water pollution, soil erosion, destruction of biodiversity, ozone layer depletion and so forth. As far as the environmental issues faced by Indonesia are concerned, it is suffering a wide variety of environmental issues such as deforestation, water pollution, air pollution, overfishing, serious threats to biodiversity, waste problems, natural disasters, etc.. Most of those issues normally result from the country’s higher population density, rapid industrialization, urbanization, poor social infrastructure such as water supply and sewerage systems and so forth. Now, let’s pay attention to the above mentioned environmental issues separately. Deforestation in Indonesia mainly takes place because of rapidly growing population and the resultant demand for arable land, timber as well as firewood. Furthermore, more destructive wildfires also have caused deforestation to some degree. The most affected regions can be identified as the mountainous regions of Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Sumatra. As a notable incident, in 1983, nearly 30,000 square kilometres of tropical forest were badly damaged in a wildfire in Kalimantan Timur Province. According to the magazine ‘Time’, Indonesia has recorded the highest rate of deforestation in the world recently outstripping Brazil. The country has lost more than 6 million hectares of forest between 2000 and 2012. The use of fires to clear land for agricultural activities has been conducive for Indonesia to becoming the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. Finally, deforestation in the country has resulted in severe soil erosion too.

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As far as water pollution is concerned, Indonesia has been ranked among the largest water polluters in the world. The lack of sewerage facilities and illegal as well as improper gold mining practices using mercury has led to this issue to a significant degree. The city ‘Jakarta’s waste substances are usually discharged into private septic tanks or directly into rivers as well as canals. In rural areas, run-off from growing use of pesticide and fertilizer has been conducive to increased levels of toxicity in the water supply, inordinate accumulation of algae in river beds, and the resultant damage to marine life. Off the coast of the country, there are rivers containing raw sewage that spread for miles and miles. For example, Citarum river in West Java is considered to one of the most polluted rivers in the world. A large number of people and factories dump a great amount of industrial and household waste including lead, manganese, arsenic, mercury and plastic directly into this river on a daily basis. Water pollution in the country is not limited only to river water. It has happened to sea water too. Some oil leakages from supertankers have contributed to the pollution of coastal waters around Indonesia to a significant degree. For example, the pollution of the Strait of Malacca between Malaysia and Sumatra due to oil leakage from the Japanese supertanker ‘Showa Maru’ in 1975 can be cited as an unforgettable incident. Such kinds of water pollution have resulted in dead fish in many areas.

In paying attention to air pollution, urban areas in Indonesia are being affected by severe air pollution. For example, ‘The Jakarta Post’ had reported that the capital city ‘Jakarta’ ranked among the world’s most polluted cities in terms of air pollution in 2018. Air pollution usually takes place as a result of industry, growing levels of motor vehicle emissions as well as forest fires related to palm oil plantation development. As a notable incident, forest fires in Kalimantan during 1997-1998 produced a thick, smoky haze that spread to much of Southeast Asia, leading to closed schools and businesses, deaths as well as health problems in the form of disorders in eyes, respiratory systems and skin. The polluted air normally includes particles of soot, organic hazardous material, heavy metals, acid aerosols as well as dust.

As far as overfishing is concerned, Indonesia is suffering this issue too. Fish are a crucial part of the marine ecosystem in the country. They contribute to the food chain and the overall well-being of the ocean. In addition, fish are also prominent for Indonesians as food or source of livelihood. Unluckily, it ultimately lead to overfishing. Some major causes of overfishing in Indonesia are associated with large population, harmful fishing methods, improved technological capacity for catching fish, unregulated fishing, lack of knowledge, subsidies to large fishing industries, etc. Eventually, overfishing has resulted in declining fish stocks in the waters belonging to Indonesia.

In focusing on the threats to biodiversity in Indonesia, it has become a serious issue. Indonesia is undoubtedly considered to be one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. It is really amazing that this country possesses over 25,000 species of flowering plants, 515 species of mammals, 781 species of reptiles, 1592 species of birds as well as 270 species of amphibians. Unfortunately, a significant number of those species have been jeopardized by various reasons such as deforestation, climate change, illegal wildlife trade and hunting. Sumatran orangutan, Sumatran tiger, spiny turtle, Sumatran rhinoceros, etc can be regarded as some endangered species in the country.

Another environmental issue encountered by Indonesia is waste problem. Waste except for hazardous and toxic waste produced by factories is transferred to waste collection companies, and after valuable substances have been sorted and collected, it is put into landfills or completely burnt. However, open piling is usually done at landfills without covering it with soil. Sometimes, the waste is washed into the surrounding areas when it rains. Furthermore, household waste is dumped without being treated on unoccupied land or into areas of water because the household waste contains only small quantities of valuable substances. Though waste substances have proliferated in large quantities due to rapid economic expansion in Indonesia, the infrastructure for waste treatment has not progressed at a sufficient pace.

As far as natural disasters are concerned, Indonesia is considered to be highly vulnerable to natural disasters, especially volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and the resulting tsunamis because it is situated along a volatile seismic strip called the ‘Ring of Fire’ in the Pacific Ocean. For example, the tsunami disaster on the 26th of December 2004 killed an estimated number of 227,898 people including 167,540 Indonesian people. As the latest incident, more than 400 people were reported dead after a tsunami happened on the 22th of December 2018. This tsunami case was believed to had been caused by undersea landslides in the Sunda Strait following an eruption of the Anak Krakatoa volcano. In addition to the above mentioned natural disasters, the country normally encounters floods, landslides, droughts and forest fires as well. Finally, various human actions can help cause or aggravate all these disasters.

However, Indonesia has adopted some solutions for coping with environmental issues. In order to reduce deforestation, the country has implemented a number of solutions such as corporate zero-deforestation commitments and a moratorium with Norway on new logging concessions. In addressing water pollution, revitalization of the country’s 13 main river basins which are categorized as heavily polluted, expanding access to clean water for the poor, efforts to clean up the Citarum River, introducing reforms of water resource management, establishing water quality monitoring systems, etc. can be regarded as several solutions adopted by the country in order to deal with water pollution. As far as dealing with air pollution is concerned, Indonesia has applied various solutions such as setting emission standards, promotion of the use of low-sulphur fuel and unleaded gasoline, installation of exhaust gas processing units and catalytic converters to motor vehicles, development of motor vehicle emission measurement stations, etc.. As far as dealing with overfishing is concerned, overfishing by Japanese and American ‘floating factory’ fishing boats was officially restricted in Indonesia. Furthermore, in an attempt to conserve biodiversity, the country has adopted a number of solutions such as in situ conservation outside protected areas including forest and wetland, ex situ conservation through gene and seed banks, breeding programmes, enactment of laws supporting the conservation of biodiversity, enhancing public awareness of forest and wildlife conservation through education, conservation of coastal and marine resources, etc.. Finally, in an attempt to reduce waste problems, the country has taken certain actions such as encouraging those who discharge hazardous and toxic waste to treat the waste themselves or to deliver it to a treatment company, prohibiting the import of hazardous and toxic waste, cleaning beaches by activists and community groups, recycling of waste, producing energy from waste, enhancing public awareness of waste management, strengthening the legal framework facilitating waste management, etc..

In addition to the above mentioned solutions, I also would like to make some suggestions for solving those environmental issues. Firstly, deforestation can be reduced through extensive planting of trees, proper regulation of logging, imposing strict restrictions on the use of fires to clear forest for agriculture, discouraging use of paper, enhancing public awareness of forest conservation, etc.. Secondly, water pollution can be alleviated by educational programmes on conservation and management of water, wastewater treatment, organic farming, encouraging green-oriented companies, imposing regulations on disposal of waste substances into the sources of water and proper enforcement of such regulations, improving facilities for the disposal of sewage, etc.. Thirdly, air pollution can be reduced through encouraging public transport, cycling or walking instead of using motor vehicles as much as possible, proper maintenance of motor vehicles, promotion of alternative energy sources such as solar power, planting trees in large quantities, restrictions on emission of harmful gases by factories, etc.. Fourthly, overfishing can be mitigated by prohibition on using trawl nets, creation of more protected areas in waters, stopping subsidies to large fishing industries, proper regulation of fishing, developing awareness of conservation of the resource of fish among fishermen, promotion of sustainable seafood, etc.. Furthermore, biodiversity loss can be mitigated through creation of wildlife reserves, identification and development of the species that are resistant to climate change, monitoring species, evaluation of the vulnerability of various ecosystems, etc.. Finally, waste problems can be solved by composting, reduction in and reuse of non-biodegradable items such as plastic and polythene, regulation of the disposal of solid waste substances and so forth.

As a brief conclusion to this essay, Indonesia is a developing country in Southeast Asia with higher vulnerability to natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunami. This country is facing a range of environmental issues such as deforestation, water pollution, air pollution, overfishing, serious threats to biodiversity, waste problems, natural disasters. So, the country has already adopted various solutions in an attempt to mitigate those environmental issues. In addition, I also have made several suggestions for mitigating the environmental issues, at the latter part of the essay. Ultimately, the extent to which the environmental issues faced by Indonesia are solved will depend on how good and effective the implementation of all the solutions is.

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Environmental Issues Faced by Indonesia. (2022, November 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/environmental-issues-faced-by-indonesia/
“Environmental Issues Faced by Indonesia.” Edubirdie, 25 Nov. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/environmental-issues-faced-by-indonesia/
Environmental Issues Faced by Indonesia. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/environmental-issues-faced-by-indonesia/> [Accessed 23 Jun. 2024].
Environmental Issues Faced by Indonesia [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Nov 25 [cited 2024 Jun 23]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/environmental-issues-faced-by-indonesia/
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