Primary or ancient forests are distinguished from managed forests, which are plantations of trees grown for timber and pulp.
The researchers found that primary forest loss accelerated during the period under review, reaching an annual 840,000 hectares by 2012 ― nearly twice the deforestation rate of Brazil, which was 460,000 hectares in the same year.
“Indonesia’s forests contain high floral and faunal biodiversity, including 10 percent of the world’s plants, 12 percent of the world’s mammals, 16 percent of the world’s reptile-amphibians and 17 percent of the world’s bird species,” said the study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
“Extensive clearing of Indonesian primary forest cover directly results in habitat loss and associated plant and animal extinctions.”
The research, led by geographer Belinda Margono of the University of Maryland, looked at long-term satellite images.
During 2000-2012, total forest cover in Indonesia retreated by 15.79 million hectares, of which 6.02 million, or 38 percent, was primary forest, the investigation found.