TROPICAL RAINFORESTS: Imperiled Riches—Threatened Rainforests

Indonesia's Transmigration Program

Indonesia is one of many countries feeling the burden of a large population crowded in a relatively small area. The Indonesian government's present-minded solution is to move landless poor and other peoples from the crowded central islands of Java and Bali to the outer islands of New Guinea (the Indonesian half of the island formerly known as Irian Jaya), Borneo, Sumatra, and Sulawesi. The idea is to use this migrants to develop infrastructure, schools, and hospitals to put these otherwise "useless" lands to use. In the past two decades the government has moved more than six million people from the crowded central islands. Unfortunately, these outer lands are covered by the majority of southeast Asia's remaining primarily forest. As more people are shipped to colonize the outer areas, more forest falls.

Many of the transmigrant agricultural schemes fail shortly after they are established. Many colonists coming from cities lack basic knowledge of cultivation techniques. Nor does it help that many settlements are established in peat forests and tidal swamps in Kalimantan where traditional agriculture is exceedingly difficult.

Continued: Economic Restructuring

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