To clarify the causes and history of forest loss in Indonesia from 1950 to 2015, we compiled and analyzed national-level statistics and literature relating to forest cover change. In 1950, nearly 159.0 Mha (87.0%) of the total land area (182.7 million hectares or Mha) in Indonesia was estimated to be covered by forest. Between 1950 and 1997, 59.0 Mha of forest was deforested, while 7.1 Mha of arable land, 10.2 Mha of permanent crop, and 41.7 Mha of "other" land category were increased. Between 1997 and 2015, 5.6 Mha of arable land and 11.3 Mha of land for permanent crop were increased, while 9.0 Mha of forest and 7.9 Mha of the "other" category decreased. Prior to 1970, no trend of severe forest loss was apparent. Between 1970 and the mid-1990s, export-oriented log production and global demand were the primary pressures underlying deforestation. Cultivation of rice and other crops was also found to be associated with a growing population and transmigration policy. Moreover, deregulation of foreign investment in the 1980s appears to have led to expansion of an export-oriented industry, including commercial crop and log production. Between the mid-1990s and 2015, imbalance between global demand and production of Indonesian timber and oil palm led to illegal or non-sustainable timber harvest and expansion of permanent agricultural areas. Since 2011, regulation of forestry practices coupled with a tree planting movement have been promoted, resulting in the amelioration of deforestation rates.
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