Monday, May 01, 2017

Mapping Borneo's Deforestation Disaster


In 1973 three quarters of Borneo was covered in tropical forest. Since 1973 over one third of that forest has been lost due to industrial logging and the spread of industrial oil palm and pulpwood plantations. The Atlas of Deforestation and Industrial Plantations in Borneo shows where Borneo's tropical forests have been lost and the incredible scale of this continuing deforestation.

The interactive map includes three main layers. One layer shows the 2015 area of forest cover. A second layer shows industrial oil-palm plantations. The third layer visualizes industrial pulpwood plantations. If you use the menu at the bottom of the map the 'Simple Deforestation Layer' allows you to swipe between maps showing forest cover in 1973 and in 2015. Another option in this menu lets you view industrial plantations based on how much time elapsed between deforestation and their establishment.


It isn't just Borneo which is facing this scale of environmental destruction. The world's largest producer of palm oil is Indonesia. To grow oil palms vast areas of tropical forest in Malaysia and Indonesia have been destroyed.

Greenpeace has responded to this environmental disaster by creating an interactive map to provide information on company concession information and how these concessions relate to peatlands, fire hotspots and deforestation alerts in Indonesia.

The Protecting Forests & Peatlands in Indonesia map includes a number of data layers which allow you to view where palm oil, wood fibre, logging and coal mining concessions have been awarded in Indonesia. You can click on the concession areas on the map to learn more about the company that holds the concession and the size of the concession. The map also includes layers which allow you to view orangutan & tiger habitats, forestry land cover and peat lands. The map can also show active fires in the country and fires since 2013.


If you want to learn more about why forests are being lost to palm oil plantations then you should take a look at the Guardian's From Rainforest to Your Cupboard: The Real Story of Palm Oil. This interactive study explores the environmental impact of the increasing production and use of palm oil around the world.

One of the biggest disasters caused by the increase in palm oil consumption is the destruction of the rainforests in order to create palm oil plantations. The Guardian illustrates the effect of this deforestation in Indonesia with a before and after interactive map using satellite imagery showing primary forest loss in the Riau province of Indonesia between 2000 and 2012.

The Guardian has also created a timeline map to visualize the global increase in palm oil production. This map illustrates the growth in global palm oil production over the last 50 years. A similar timeline map is used to show the growth in palm oil consumption in countries across the world over the same 50 year time span.
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