Pulp industry and environment in Indonesia: is there sustainable future?

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The global demand for wood is set to increase signi cantly over the next two decades. The growth is to be particularly pronounced in the Asia Paci c, and timber plantations are expected to be a major source of wood ber. Indonesia is taking steps to meet the global demand for wood by expanding its pulp production and timber plantations. However, there are concerns about the environmental trade-offs of this expansion. The pulp sector continues to rely on natural forests for timber. The size and productivity of timber plantations are uncertain because of unreliable data. The employment and poverty alleviation potential of the pulp sector are overstated. The pulp sector continues to attract large-scale foreign capital due to high returns on undervalued timber from natural forest. However, environmentally and socially, it is a high-risk investment. The pulp sector in Indonesia can be environmentally sustainable and economically pro table, but the conversion of natural forest must be stopped; the use of non-forest land for plantations must be maximized; and smallholder tree-growing schemes must be made simpler and more attractive. Careful revision of the pulp growth targets and greater investor due diligence are needed to ensure a more sustainable future.

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