The colonial economy depends on large plantations of tree crops such as rubber and coffee, and other land-intensive agricultural products such as tobacco. Since 1870 state ownership of forest lands take precedence over any traditional practices, and large tracts of tropical forest are cleared for plantations.
The Japanese intensify extraction of natural resources to power the war effort.
The colonial principle of state ownership of forest is reaffirmed in the 1945 Indonesian constitution. Centralized control of resources was reinforced by the Basic Agrarian Law of 1960. Logging of the 150 million hectares of forest continues, but not yet at the high levels seen in subsequent years.
The 1967 Basic Forestry Law grants the state sweeping control over 143 million hectares of public forest land, despite the presence of communities that have used the forests for generations. The law sparks a logging boom, and by 1978 timber exports account for half the world total. Logging concessions go to army-owned businesses and cronies, who partner with foreign and ethnic Chinese capital.
The return of state-led industrialization spurs growth of high-polluting industries. The Green Revolution introduces seeds that respond well to fertilizers and pesticides, helping Indonesia go from world's largest rice importer to self-sufficient by 1985. But the costly chemical inputs also carried negative environmental and economic impacts, and benefits do not reach farmers in marginal areas.
Liberalization and the shift to export-oriented manufacturing produce growth of urban manufacturing and resulting environmental impacts. Increasingly well-organized nongovernmental organizations and a forward-thinking environmental minister become effective advocates for environmental management.
Timber-processing promotion, transmigration, and population pressures lead to an annual deforestation rate of 1 percent in the 1990s, much higher than the world average. Forest fires resulting from illegal and excessive logging blanket the region in haze.
The financial crisis, coupled with political change, produces a decline in government authority, allowing local governments, private firms, and illegal loggers and fishermen to exploit natural resources with little oversight. Conservationists sound an alarm over illegal logging at unprecedented levels and extreme damage to Indonesia's forests.
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