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Deforestation is the permanent clearing and destruction of forests due to human

activities like creating land for settlements, agriculture and industries.

The main cause of rapid deforestation in the world is the growing world
population. More people are dependent on forests as a resource, and due to the
increased land demand, forests are being cleared to create land for human activities
like settlements, agriculture and industries.
Rapid deforestation in Kalimantan is due to the significant increase in its
population and hence human activities.
Cause 1
Increased agriculture landuse demand
Owing to the resettlement of Indonesians in Kalimantan to ease overcrowding,
Kalimantans population and subsequently its agricultural activities has increased.
The new settlers establish farms converted from cleared forests to grow cash
crops like rice and vegetables. Some even clear more forested areas to extend their
farmland for higher profits.
Plantation companies are also acquiring forest land to grow cash crops like oil
palm. Large expanse of the Kalimantan rainforests has been cleared to meet these
Cause 2
In Kalimantan, people are resettling from rural to urban settlements for better
employment opportunities.
This leads to urbanisation where rainforests are cleared for the expansion of
towns and cities.
An example is the expansion of Balikpapan which led to the destruction of the
forest ecosystem.

Cause 3
Improved transport networks
Roads and railway tracks cutting through forests, like the Trans-Kalimantan
Highway, have been constructed to improve accessibility and access to previously
remote areas.

However, this has made destruction of larger parts of the rainforests easier.

Cause 4
Industrial development

Industrial activities like logging and mining has led to forest destruction.

Trees are logged and sold as timber. The heavy logging in Kalimantan is the
result of the rapid pace at which wood is processed and exported.
In mining, vegetation is cleared to expose the underneath ground, causing
large rainforest expanse to be cleared.
Cause 5
Forest fires
Forest fires are deliberately set by people to clear large forest areas for oil
palm plantations and agriculture.
This is cheaper than employing labour to cut down trees and is the traditional
agricultural method for shifting cultivators.

Problem caused by Deforestation

One of the problems first with deforesting the rainforests is that the soil is only of
use to farmers before the nutrients have been sapped out and then suffer severe
erosion without the forest of roots to prevent this, exacerbating the situation.
Another problem is the loss of biodiversity, with many known and unknown
species facing extinction (and potentially robbing us of future beneficial

discoveries) and a large amount of the carbon dioxide-absorbing trees vanishing

(and exacerbating any potential climate change).
The Kalimantan rainforest contain a very high biodiversity of plants and animals.
Due to deforestation, the biodiversity of plants and animals in Kalimantan
rainforests is reduced, which leads to extinctions of species.
Measures taken by the local people to manage forest in Kalimantan
A. Ministry of Forestry is responsible for ensuring a balance between
generating income for the country through the sale of forest resources and
protecting the forest.
B. Community involvement
Local governments are now required by law to manage the forests that are
found in the area, instead of leaving the entire responsibility to the MOF and
the central government. This system empowers the local governments to
enforce laws regarding forest use and to act more swiftly to prevent
C. Sustainable management
Refers to the careful use of resources, such as forests to allow people to
continue using the resources in the future.
D. Controlling forest fires
The Indonesian government has made it illegal to clear land using the fire.
E. Afforestation and reforestation
Are carried out to restore forest.
F. Conservation
G. Controlled logging
To prevent damage by logging, selective cutting is introduced to prevent
trees that are not commercially valuable from being logged.

Key term
Fauna refers to the animal life of a regions
Flora refers to the plant life of region.
The renewal of oxygen and removal of carbon dioxide through photosynthesis has
given forests the name Green lungs of the earth
A habitat is the environment where plants and animals live in.
A resource refers to any component of the physical environment that can be used
by people to meet their needs. It can be a renewable or a non renewable
Renewable resources are resources that can be replenished as long as they are not
used up faster than they are replaced.
A water catchment is an area over which rain fall and is collected and stored.
Shifting cultivation is also known as slash and born cultivation. It is a type of
farming in which the farmers cut down and burn a part of the forest to grow crops.
After a few years, they move to another part of the forest as the fertility of the soil
is exhausted. The old plot is left to fallow or rest.
Sustainable development refers to the careful of resources in which the needs and
development of the present generation are met, without affecting the ability of
future generations to meet their own needs and attain development.

Key term
Afforestation refers to the replanting of trees on areas that were not originally
covered with forest.
Agricultural activities involves the cultivation of crops and rearing of animals.
Air pollution occurs when substances such as dust, smoke or harmful gases are
released into the atmosphere.
Biodiverity refers to the variety of organisms in an ecosystem.
Biomass refers to the combined weight of all organisms in an cosystem and is
measured in terms of kilocalories of stored energy. This sored energy represents
the total amount of food produced and the ability of the ecosystem to support life.
Conservation refers to careful use of resources to protect them from destruction.
Controlled logging involved the selective cutting and replanting of trees in forests
that have been logged.
Deforestation is the permanent clearing and destruction of forest.
Extinction of species occurs when a plant or animal species disappears and no
longer exixts on the Earth.
Forest fire refers to fire that occurs in forests which results in destruction of forests
and air pollution.
Haze occurs when forest fires causes dust and smoke particles to be suspended in
the air, which results in low visibility.

Industrial activity refers to any activity that is carried out for economic gain. An
industrial activity can be categorised into primary, secondary and tertiary
industries. A primary industry involves the extraction of natural resources and raw
materials. A secondary industry involves the manufacturing of goods from natural
resources and raw materials. A tertiary industry involves the provision of services.
Logging refers to the cutting of trees in order to sell the timber for profit.
The nutrient cycle refers to intake, use, release and storage of nutrients by plants
and their environments.
The pH level or potential hyfrogen level is the satandard measured of aciditity or
alkalinity. The pH values ranges from 0 to 14. The neutral value is 7. Acid have pH
values lower that 7 while alkalines have pH values above 7.
The sediment level refers to the amount of materials, like sand and the mud, in a
water body such as a river.
Transport refers to the movement of people and goods from one place to another.
Urbanisation refers to the growth and expansion of towns and cities.
Illegal logging refers to a logging activity that has taken place without the
permission of authorities.
Leaching is a process in which water seeps into the ground and transports soluble
minerals downwards into the soil layers. This results in the removal of nutrients
from the top layer of the soil.
Reforestation refers to the planting of trees in formely forested area that had been
cleared by logging.

Forests as a Resource
Function and uses of forest
1) Maintaining water supply
(a) Quantity of water in forested areas
Replenishing of rainwater

Plays significant role in water cycle.

Vegetation transpiration releases water vapour into atmosphere which

encourages cloud formation and hence rain.
Ensures groundwater flow that replenishes water supply

Leaves and branches of vegetation intercept forming a vegetation cover which

reduces impact of water on ground.
More water is allowed to seep into the ground to become groundwater instead
of flowing over.

This ensures continuous flow of water that replenishes water supply.

(b) Quality of water in forested areas:

Comparison of water quality in forested area VS urban area
Forested area
Natural filtration processes

Urban area
No filtration processes

Rainwater seeping into the

ground is filtered by soil layers
which trap impurities between
the pore spaces, resulting in
clear groundwater.

Concrete surfaces of urban

areas do not allow water to seep
through. Rainwater flows over
it carrying impurities on the
ground surface along.

The vegetation cover intercepts

rainwater to reduce its speed
and flow. This prevents soil
particles from being washed
into rivers by rain.

Rainwater flows into drains,

canals and eventually the sea.

Water quality in urban areas is

therefore poorer as it contains
more sediments and impurities.

Hence, water collected in rivers

are of better quality as it
contains few sediments and

2) Maintaining fixed air composition (replenishing O2 and removing CO2)

Plants photosynthesize to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, which is a

greenhouse gas.

This reduces the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, thus preventing global
warming through excessive greenhouse effect.

O2 is released during photosynthesis, replenishing Earths O2 supply which

is essential for life.

3) Maintaining nutrients in soil (Nutrient cycle)


Forest vegetation ensures leaf litter, which decomposes to release nutrients

into the soil, making it fertile.

Roots of vegetation hold onto the soil firmly, preventing rain/wind from
removing the fertile top layer of the soil. This prevents soil nutrients from
being removed through soil erosion which may reduce the soils fertility and
hence its ability to support vegetation growth.

4) Preventing floods and protecting coasts

Preventing floods

Roots of forest vegetation prevent soil erosion by holding onto the soil

Without roots, eroded soil deposited into rivers will cause the river bed to
become shallower. This reduces its water storage capacity and the river eventually
overflows its banks (floods).
Protecting coasts

Mangrove forests protect coastal areas from storms and strong waves.

For example, mangroves prevented some coastal villages from destruction

in the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.

5) Natural treatment of waste water


Mangrove forests act as natural treatment plants being able to process

waste materials carried by the water, including household rubbish and
human waste.

Roots of mangroves trap waste materials and filter the water.

The soils in mangroves contain bacteria that break down biodegradable

waste and convert them into nutrients.

6) Habitat for flora, fauna and people


Forests are natural habitats to of the flora and fauna species in the world.

Without forests, natural habitats will be lost leading to the endangering and
extinction of innocent plants and animal species, like the Orang Utan and
giant pandas.

It is also home to 60 million people who live in the TRs of Africa and SEA,
including natives and shifting cultivators.

8) A source of useful materials

Timber and other commercially valuable trees are logged by timber companies
to manufacture paper, furniture, and to construct buildings.

Meranti trees in TRs are used to manufacture furniture.

Fuelwood and charcoal

In LDCs like Africa and India, fuelwood is gathered for cooking and heating

Charcoal is also used as a fuel for cooking in many countries.

In Malaysia, certain mangrove trees are used to make charcoal.

Food for native people

Sago is harvested by native people of Borneo for food.

The natives get their main source of food from the forests which include plants
and animals.

Some plants of medicinal value are used to make medicines and drugs.

For example, cough syrups can be made from the Eastern White Pine tree
found in coniferous forests.

Useful chemicals are extracted from forests, including tannin which is used to
treat leather.
9) Research and education

Scientific research is conducted in forests to develop new medicines and

varieties of crops.

Crops like bananas and cocoa are cultivated for food.

Forests enable scientists to study the interactions between forests and

the environment as well as how weather changes can affect forest ecosystems.

10) Recreation

Forests provide people with a place for recreational activities like hiking and

Ecotourism has gained popularity and Taman Negara in Malaysia has been
promoted as an ecotourism destination.

This way, income can be generated through tourism while forests are