Jambi, a province located in the center of Sumatra Island, Indonesia, is home to forests and peatlands that regulate water flows, store carbon, support biodiversity, and are lifelines for traditional communities such as the Talang Mamak, Orang Rimba, and Melayu peoples. But these rich landscapes are fast disappearing.
Natural forests used to cover 40 percent of Jambi in 2006, but by 2017 this had fallen to only 22 percent (based on Ministry of Environment and Forestry 2017 analysis of satellite images for Jambi). Emissions from the Agriculture, Forests, and Land Use (AFOLU) sector account for over 85 percent of total emissions in Jambi.
The International Day of Forests this year took us back to memory lane when we made a personal visit to the province’s capital Jambi City last year, located in eastern Jambi, to the Kerinci district in the province’s far west. We observed kilometers after kilometers of extensive palm oil plantations, interrupted by coal mines and lively villages.
The impact of this rapid transformation has been felt by the local people. Many retold the experiences of Orang Rimba who are confined to protected forests (such as the Bukit Dua Belas National Park) or even squeezed within palm oil plantations and no longer have space to practice their traditional way of life. Human-wildlife conflicts are multiplying, including with species such as elephants and tigers, leading to the loss of critically endangered species. At the same time, local people clearly recognize the benefits of protecting forests – particularly the role of forests in maintaining water balance and avoiding erosion and protecting from natural disasters.
Indonesia has taken strong measures to avoid deforestation and promote green growth in Jambi