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Ethical Issues in

Environmental
DestructionRainforests in Thailand
and Indonesia
Business Ethics
Paul Rohit G.

0259/51

Abstract
Deforestationistheclearanceofnaturalforestcoverbyloggingand
burning.AccordingtotheWorldResourcesInstitute,over80percentof
theEarthsnaturalforestshavealreadybeendestroyed.Between1945
and1975forestcoverinThailanddeclinedfrom61%to34%ofthe
country'slandarea.
Wetlandsareconvertedtoricepaddyfieldsandurbansprawl.Duringthe
twentiethcentury,deforestationinThailandwasmainlydueto
agriculturalexpansion,althoughteakdeforestationhappenedasadirect
resultoftimbercutting.
Mainreasonsincludepopulationgrowth,agriculturalpolicy,land
ownershippolicyandillegallogging.AscenarioreleasedbyUNEPin
2002suggestedthatmostnaturalrainforestinIndonesiawouldbe
degradedby2032.Giventherateofdeforestationinthepastfiveyears,
andrecentwidespreadinvestmentinoilpalmplantationsandbiodiesel
refineries,thismayhavebeenoptimistic.
Newestimatessuggestthat98%oftheforestmaybedestroyedby2022,
thelowlandforestmuchsooner.
Currently,areaequivalentof300soccerfieldsisbeingclearedofrain
forestseveryhour.
Relevanceofethicstocontemporaryissues
Ethicsisthedomainofinquirythatexploreswhatisrightorwrong,
obligatoryornonobligatory,orwhenresponsibilityattachestohuman
behavior.
Ethicalprinciplesprovidethefoundationsforvariousmodernconcepts
forwork,businessandgovernments.Theissuesinvolvefarmorethanthe
shareholderearningsandprofit,asthefirmsgrowlargerandlarger.The
traditionalfactorsconsideredwerecostmanagementandservicequality,
butnow,thefirmsmustalsotakeintoaccounttheissuesaffectingthe
worldintotal.

Therearenouniversallyagreedrulesofethics,noabsolutestandardsor
controls,andnofixedandfirmreferencepoints.Therulesandlaws
relatingtotheseissueshencearecontinuallyrevisedintandemwiththe
changingsituations.
Withtheadventoftransnationalandmultinationalcompaniescapableof
rangingovergreatdistancesandoperatingattremendousspeed,ithas
beendifficultforthecommunitytokeeptrackofdevelopmentsinthe
commercialworld.
Fromthepointofviewofbusiness,thishasmeantthatithasbeenableto
enjoyaconsiderabledegreeoffreedom.Inexercisingthisfreedom,there
weresomecasualtiesastheenvironment,employeehealthandsafety,
shareholdersrightsandthewelfareofthecommunityatlarge.
However,somethingquiteremarkableseemstohaveoccurredinthe
latterpartofthe1980sandonintothe1990s.Thisisthattherehasbeena
suddenrealisationthatthewholenetworkisinterdependent.Theimpact
ofanydecisiontakenbythebusinesscommunityhasafarfetchedimpact
onthecommunityandthewholeworldwelivein,atlarge.
Businessisnotamachine,itisahumanendeavour.Oneoftheconfusing
issuesforthecommunityistheseemingimpersonalityofmany
businesseswhendeepdownthecommunityknowsthatitispeoplejust
likethemwhoarerunningtheshow.Thevariousissuesnowarea
consequenceofconsciousdecisionstakenbythegovernmentandthe
businessesandnotsomeaccident.
Thisistobringusbacktothepointaboutregulation.Itislikelythat
lastingchangewillonlybeeffectedwhencommunitystandardshave
evolvedtosuchadegreethatunethicalbehaviourisnotonlyquestionable
butalsounthinkable.Thecommunityhastoevolveandtakeanactive
roletotraditionalizeethicsinthebusinesses.

CurrentEnvironmentalconcerns
Ourenvironmentisconstantlychanging.Withamassiveinfluxofnatural
disasters,warmingandcoolingperiods,differenttypesofweather
patternsandmuchmore,peopleneedtobeawareofwhattypesof
environmentalproblemsourplanetisfacing.
Globalwarminghasbecomeanundisputedfactaboutourcurrent
livelihoods;ourplanetiswarmingupandwearedefinitelythecauseof
theproblem.However,thisisnttheonlyenvironmentalproblemthatwe
shouldbeconcernedabout.Allacrosstheworld,peoplearefacinga
wealthofnewandchallengingenvironmentalproblemseveryday.Some
ofthemaresmallandonlyaffectafewecosystems,butothersare
drasticallychangingthelandscapeofwhatwealreadyknow.
1.Pollution:Pollutionofair,waterandsoilrequiremillionsofyearsto
recoup.Industryandmotorvehicleexhaustarethemajorcause.Heavy
metals,nitratesandplasticaretoxinsresponsibleforpollution.While
waterpollutioniscausedbyoilspill,acidrain,urbanrunoff;airpollution
iscausedbyvariousgasesandtoxinsreleasedbyindustriesandfactories
andcombustionoffossilfuels;soilpollutionismajorlycausedby
industrialwastethatdeprivessoilofessentialnutrients.

2.GlobalWarming:Climatechangeslikeglobalwarmingistheresult
ofhumanpracticeslikeemissionofGreenhousegases.Globalwarming
leadstorisingtemperaturesoftheoceansandtheearthsurfacecausing

meltingofpolaricecaps,riseinsealevelsandalsounnaturalpatternsof
precipitationsuchasflashfloods,excessivesnowordesertification.
3.Overpopulation:Thepopulationoftheplanetisreaching
unsustainablelevelsasitfacesshortageofresourceslikewater,fueland
food.Populationexplosioninlessdevelopedanddevelopingcountriesis
strainingthealreadyscarceresources.Intensiveagriculturepracticedto
producefooddamagestheenvironmentthroughuseofchemicalfertilizer,
pesticidesandinsecticides.ThisispredominantincaseofIndia.Dueto
theGreenRevolution,theilleffectsofexcessiveuseoffertilizerscanbe
seen.
4.NaturalResourceDepletion:Naturalresourcedepletionisanother
crucialcurrentenvironmentalproblems.Fossilfuelconsumptionresults
inemissionofGreenhousegases,whichisresponsibleforglobal
warmingandclimatechange.Globally,peoplearetakingeffortstoshift
torenewablesourcesofenergylikesolar,wind,biogasandgeothermal
energy.Thecostofinstallingtheinfrastructureandmaintainingthese
sourceshasplummetedintherecentyears.
5.WasteDisposal:Theoverconsumptionofresourcesandcreationof
plasticsarecreatingaglobalcrisisofwastedisposal.Developedcountries
arenotoriousforproducinganexcessiveamountofwasteorgarbageand
dumpingtheirwasteintheoceansand,lessdevelopedcountries.Nuclear
wastedisposalhastremendoushealthhazardsassociatedwithit.Plastic,
fastfood,packagingandcheapelectronicwastesthreatenthewellbeing
ofhumans.Wastedisposalisoneofurgentcurrentenvironmental
problem.
6.ClimateChange:Climatechangeisyetanotherenvironmental
problemthathassurfacedinlastcoupleofdecades.Itoccursduetorise
inglobalwarmingwhichoccursduetoincreaseintemperatureof
atmospherebyburningoffossilfuelsandreleaseofharmfulgasesby
industries.Climatechangehasvariousharmfuleffectsbutnotlimitedto
meltingofpolarice,changeinseasons,occurrenceofnewdiseases,
frequentoccurrenceoffloodsandchangeinoverallweatherscenario.
TheirregularityofmonsoonsinIndiacanbeattributedtothis.

7.LossofBiodiversity:Humanactivityisleadingtotheextinctionof
speciesandhabitatsandahugelossofbiodiversity.Ecosystems,which
tookmillionsofyearstoperfect,areindangerwhenanyspecies
populationisdecimating.Balanceofnaturalprocesseslikepollinationis
crucialtothesurvivaloftheecosystemandhumanactivitythreatensthe
same.Anotherexampleisthedestructionofcoralreefsinthevarious
oceans,whichsupporttherichmarinelife.
8.Deforestation:Ourforestsarenaturalsinksofcarbondioxideand
producefreshoxygenaswellashelpsinregulatingtemperatureand
rainfall.Atpresentforestscover30%ofthelandbuteveryyeartree
coverislostamountingtothecountryofPanamaduetogrowing
populationdemandformorefood,shelterandcloth.Deforestationsimply
meansclearingofgreencoverandmakethatlandavailablefor
residential,industrialorcommercialpurpose.
9.OceanAcidification:Itisadirectimpactofexcessiveproductionof
CO2.25%ofthetotalCO2isproducedbyhumans.Theoceanacidityhas
increasedinthelast250yearsbutby2100,itmayshootupby150%.The
mainimpactisonshellfishandplanktoninthesamewayashuman
osteoporosis.
10.OzoneLayerDepletion:Theozonelayerisaninvisiblelayerof
protectionaroundtheplanetthatprotectsusfromthesunsharmfulrays.
DepletionofthecrucialOzonelayeroftheatmosphereisattributedto
pollutioncausedbyChlorineandBromidefoundinChloroflorocarbons
(CFCs).Oncethesetoxicgasesreachtheupperatmosphere,theycausea
holeintheozonelayer,thebiggestofwhichisabovetheAntarctic.The
CFCsarebannedinmanyindustriesandconsumerproducts.Ozone
layerisvaluablebecauseitpreventsharmfulUVradiationfromreaching
theearth.Thisisoneofthemostimportantamongthecurrent
environmentalproblems.
11.AcidRain:Acidrainoccursduetothepresenceofcertainpollutants
intheatmosphere.Acidraincanbecausedduetocombustionoffossil
fuelsoreruptingvolcanoesorrottingvegetation,whichreleasesulfur
dioxideandnitrogenoxidesintotheatmosphere.Acidrainisa
knownenvironmentalproblemthatcanhaveseriouseffectonhuman
health,wildlifeandaquaticspecies.Theilleffectscanbeseenonthe
infamousTajMahalinIndia.
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12.WaterPollution:Cleandrinkingwaterisbecomingarare
commodity.Waterbecameaneconomicandpoliticalissueasthehuman
populationfightsforthis.Oneoftheoptionssuggestedisusingthe
processofdesalinization.Industrialdevelopmentisfillingourriversseas
andoceanswithtoxicpollutants,whichareamajorthreattohuman
health.
13.UrbanSprawl:Urbansprawlreferstomigrationofpopulationfrom
highdensityurbanareastolowdensityruralareaswhichresultsin
spreadingofcityovermoreandmoreruralland.Urbansprawlresultsin
landdegradation,increasedtraffic,environmentalissuesandhealth
issues.Theevergrowingdemandoflanddisplacesnaturalenvironment
consistingoffloraandfaunainsteadofbeingreplaced.Theneedfor
sustainablesmartcitiescanbeseenhere.
14:PublicHealthIssues:Thecurrentenvironmentalproblemsposealot
ofrisktohealthofhumans,andanimals.Dirtywateristhebiggesthealth
riskoftheworldandposesthreattothequalityoflifeandpublichealth.
Runofftoriverscarriesalongtoxins,chemicalsanddiseasecarrying
organisms.PollutantscauserespiratorydiseaselikeAsthmaandcardiac
vascularproblems.Hightemperaturesencouragethespreadofinfectious
diseaseslikeDengue.
15.GeneticEngineering:Geneticmodificationoffoodusing
biotechnologyiscalledgeneticengineering.Geneticmodificationoffood
resultsinincreasedtoxinsanddiseasesasgenesfromanallergicplant
cantransfertotargetplant.Geneticallymodifiedcropscancauseserious
environmentalproblems,asanengineeredgenemayprovetoxicto
wildlife.Anotherdrawbackisthatincreaseduseoftoxinstomakeinsect
resistantplantcancauseresultantorganismstobecomeresistantto
antibiotics.
Theneedforchangeinourdailylivesandthemovementsofour
governmentisgrowing.Becausesomanydifferentfactorscomeinto
play;voting,governmentalissues,thedesiretosticktoroutine,many
peopledontconsiderthatwhattheydowillaffectfuturegenerations.If
humanscontinuemovingforwardinsuchaharmfulwaytowardsthe
future,thentherewillbenofuturetoconsider.Althoughitstruethatwe
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cannotphysicallystopourozonelayerfromthinning(andscientistsare
stillhavingtroublefiguringoutwhatiscausingitexactly,)therearestill
somanythingswecandototryandputadentinwhatwealreadyknow.

IndianScenario
Sincetimesimmemorial,theIndianculturelaidimportanceonthe
preservationofenvironmentbymakingGodsoutofnatureand
worshippingitratherthandestroyingit.
YajnavalkyaSmriti,ahistoricIndiantextonstatecraftandjurisprudence,
suggestedtohavebeenwrittenbeforethe5thcenturyAD,prohibitedthe
cuttingoftreesandprescribedpunishmentforsuchacts.Kautalya's
Arthashastra,writteninMauryanperiod,emphasisedtheneedforforest
administration.Ashokawentfurther,andhisPillarEdictsexpressedhis
viewaboutthewelfareofenvironmentandbiodiversity.
"Happinessinthisworldandthenextisdifficulttoobtainwithoutmuch
loveforthedhamma,muchselfexamination,muchrespect,muchfearof
evil,andmuchenthusiasm.BelovedoftheGods,KingPiyadasi
(Ashoka),speaksthus:Animalsweredeclaredtobeprotectedparrots,
mainas,aruna,geese,wildducks,nandimukhas,gelatas,bats,queenants,
terrapins,bonelessfish,vedareyaka,gangapuputaka,sankiyafish,
tortoises,porcupines,squirrels,deer,bulls,okapinda,wildasses,wild
pigeons,domesticpigeonsandallfourfootedcreaturesthatareneither
usefulnoredible.Alsoprotectedwerenannygoats,ewesandsowswhich
arewithyoungorgivingmilktotheiryoung,andsoareyoungonesless
thansixmonthsold.Cocksarenottobecaponised,huskshidingliving
beingsarenottobeburnt,andforestsarenottobeburnteitherwithout
reasonortokillcreatures.Oneanimalisnottobefedtoanother.Our
kingkilledveryfewanimals."
Ashoka'sSevenPillarEdicts
ComingtothepresentscenarioinIndiawithrespecttoenvironment,
therearemanyenvironmentalissuesinIndia.Airpollution,water
pollution,garbage,andpollutionofthenaturalenvironmentareall
challengesforIndia.Thesituationwasworsebetween1947through

1995.Accordingtodatacollectionandenvironmentassessmentstudies
ofWorldBankexperts,between1995through2010,Indiahasmadeone
ofthefastestprogressesintheworld,inaddressingitsenvironmental
issuesandimprovingitsenvironmentalquality.Still,Indiahasalong
waytogotoreachenvironmentalqualitysimilartothoseenjoyedin
developedeconomies.Pollutionremainsamajorchallengeand
opportunityforIndia.
TheIndianParliamentenactedmanylawstoprotecttheenvironment.
TheAirActwasinspiredbythedecisionsmadeatStockholm
Conference.TheBhopalgastragedytriggeredtheGovernmentofIndiato
enacttheEnvironment(Protection)Actof1986.Indiahasalsoenacteda
setofNoisePollution(Regulation&Control)Rulesin2000.
In1985,IndiangovernmentcreatedtheMinistryofEnvironmentand
Forests.ThisministryisthecentraladministrativeorganisationinIndia
forregulatingandensuringenvironmentalprotection.
DespiteactivepassageoflawsbythecentralgovernmentofIndia,the
realityofenvironmentalqualitymostlyworsenedbetween1947to1990.
MostofIndianeconomywasnationalisedandownedbyIndia,and
regulationsweremostlyignoredbystaterunenterprises.Ruralpoorhad
nochoice,buttosustainlifeinwhateverwaypossible.Thestate
governmentsofIndiaoftenregardedenvironmentallawsenactedbythe
centralgovernmentasamerepaperworkformality.Airemissions
increased,waterpollutionworsened,forestcoverdecreased.
Startinginthe1990s,reformswereintroduced.Sincethen,forthefirst
timeinIndianhistory,majorairpollutantconcentrationshavedroppedin
every5yearperiod.Between1992to2010,satellitedataconfirmsIndia's
forestcoveragehasincreasedforthefirsttimebyover4millionhectares,
a7%increase.
TheWorldBankreportedthat,EnvironmentaldegradationcostsIndia
about$80bnayear,nearly6percentofgrossdomesticproduct,ina
reportrequestedbytheIndianenvironmentministry.
Thediagnosticreportthefirsttoassesstheeconomicimpactof
environmentaldamageforthewholeofIndiaandits1.3bninhabitants
showsthebiggestproblemstobeairpollution,thedegradationofcrop
lands,pasturesandforestsandpoorwatersupplyandsanitation.
TherearethreekeypoliciesrelatingtoenvironmentalprotectioninIndia.
Theyare:
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TheNationalForestPolicy,1988
PolicystatementforAbatementofPollution,1992
NationalConservationStrategyandPolicyStatementon
EnvironmentandDevelopment,1992
TheForestRightsActenactedbytheIndianParliamentin2006isa
weaponofdemocracyintheforestsofIndia.
MillionsofpeopleliveinandnearIndia'sforestlands,buthavenolegal
righttotheirhomes,landsorlivelihoods.Afewgovernmentofficials
haveallpoweroverforestsandforestdwellers.Theresultisthatboth
forestsandpeopledie.ThisActrecognisesforestdwellers'rightsand
makesconservationmoreaccountable.
Butasthecountryspopulationandeconomycontinuetogrow,theneed
tofindsolutionsbecomesmoreurgenteveryday.AcrossIndia,concern
ismountingoveranevergrowinglistofenvironmentalproblems.More
peoplemeansincreasedpressureonnaturalresources(fromwaterto
forests),whileaneconomyinhighgearisleavingatrailofpollution
thatsaffectingnotonlyIndia,buttherestoftheworldtoo.
DeforestationinIndia
Indiaiswitnessingarisingdemandforforestbasedproducts.Thiscauses
deforestationandencroachmentintoforestprotectedareas,whichleadsto
aseverelossofnaturalresources.
ItisestimatedthattotalindustrialroundwoodconsumptioninIndia
couldexceed70millioncu.mperyearbytheendofthedecade,while
domesticsupplywouldfallshortbyanestimated14millioncu.m.
Asthenationwillhavetodependheavilyonimportstomeetthis
growingdemand,thereisfearthatthiscouldresultinlossofhigh
conservationvalueforestsandbiodiversityelsewhere.
Athirstforpalmoil
Indiaisabigedibleoilconsumer.Itisoneofthethreelargestimporters
ofpalmoilintheworld,alongwithEUandChina.Oftheseimports,95%
comefromIndonesiaandMalaysia,causingnegativesocialand
environmentalconsequencesintheseexportingcountries.

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Conversionofnaturalforestsforcultivatingoilpalmisamajorthreatto
biodiversityandlivelihoodsinthetropics.Mostofthelowlandrainforest
ontheIndonesianislandofSumatrahasalreadybeenlost,largely
becauseoftheclearanceforoilpalmandpulpwoodplantations.
Withtheglobaldemandforpalmoilexpectedtoincreasefrom28million
tonnesatpresenttoabout50milliontonnesin2030,therearevery
seriousconcernsthatthiswillhappenattheexpenseofbiologicallyand
economicallyimportantforests.
Rainforests
Rainforestsareforestscharacterizedbyhighrainfall,withannualrainfall
between250and450cm.Therearetwotypesofrainforest:tropical
rainforestandtemperaterainforest.
Around40%to75%ofallbioticspeciesareindigenoustotherainforests.
Ithasbeenestimatedthattheremaybemanymillionsofspeciesof
plants,insectsandmicroorganismsstillundiscoveredintropical
rainforests.Tropicalrainforestsarecalledthe"jewelsoftheEarth"and
the"world'slargestpharmacy",becauseoveronequarterof
naturalmedicineshavebeendiscoveredthere.Rainforestsarealso
responsiblefor28%oftheworld'soxygenturnover,processingit
throughphotosynthesisfromcarbondioxideandconsumingitthrough
respiration.
Tropicalrainforestsprovidetimberaswellasanimalproductssuchas
meatandhides.Rainforestsalsohavevalueastourismdestinationsand
fortheecosystemservicesprovided.Manyfoodsoriginallycamefrom
tropicalforests,andarestillmostlygrownonplantationsinregionsthat
wereformerlyprimaryforest.Also,plantderivedmedicinesare
commonlyusedforfever,fungalinfections,burns,gastrointestinal
problems,pain,respiratoryproblems,andwoundtreatment.
Tropicalandtemperaterainforestshavebeensubjectedto
heavyloggingandagriculturalclearancethroughoutthe20thcenturyand
theareacoveredbyrainforestsaroundtheworldisshrinking.Biologists
haveestimatedthatlargenumbersofspeciesarebeingdriven
toextinction(possiblymorethan50,000ayear).Anotherfactorcausing
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thelossofrainforestisexpandingurbanareas.Littoralrainforestgrowing
alongcoastalareasofeasternAustraliaisnowrareduetoribbon
developmenttoaccommodatethedemandforseachangelifestyles.
Theforestsarebeingdestroyedatarapidpace.Almost90%ofWest
Africa'srainforesthasbeendestroyed.Sincethearrivalof
humans,Madagascarhaslosttwothirdsofitsoriginalrainforest.At
presentrates,tropicalrainforestsinIndonesiawouldbeloggedoutin10
yearsandPapuaNewGuineain13to16years.AccordingtoRainforest
Rescue,amainreasonfortheincreasingdeforestationrateespeciallyin
Indonesiaistheexpansionofoilpalmplantationstomeetthegrowing
demandforcheapvegetablefatsandbiofuels.InIndonesia,palmoilis
alreadycultivatedonninemillionhectaresand,togetherwithMalaysia,
theislandnationproducesabout85percentoftheworldspalmoil.
Severalcountries,notablyBrazil,havedeclaredtheirdeforestationa
nationalemergency.Amazondeforestationjumpedby69%in2008
comparedto2007'stwelvemonths,accordingtoofficialgovernment
data.Deforestationcouldwipeoutorseverelydamagenearly60%of
theAmazonRainforestby2030,saysanewreportfromWWF.

Rainforest Destruction
Inthepast50yearsmuchoftherainforestinAfricaandAsiahasbeen
destroyed.Largeareasofrainforestarebeingcutdown,ofteninorderto
removejustafewlogs,andrainforestisbeingdestroyedatdoublethe
rateofallpreviousestimates.Unfortunatelythismeansthatthereisa
veryhighrateofextinction,asthewildlifedependingontheforestdies
withit.

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Themainreasonsforthedestructionoftherainforestsbyhuman
interferenceinthetropicalregionsareseentobethefollowing.
CATTLE RANCHING

ManyrainforestsinCentralandSouthAmericahavebeenburntdownto
makewayforcattlefarming,whichsuppliescheapbeeftoNorth
America,ChinaandRussia.Itisestimatedthatforeachpoundofbeef
produced,200squarefeetofrainforestisdestroyed.Inthepast20years
CostaRicahaslostthemajorityofitsforeststobeefcattleranching.This
isknownasslashandburnfarmingandisbelievedtoaccountfor50%of
rainforestdestruction.
LOGGING

Thisisbelievedtobethesecondlargestcauseofdeforestation.Timber
companiescutdownhugetreessuchasmahoganyandteakandsellthem
toothercountriestomakefurniture.Smallertreesareoftenusedforthe
productionofcharcoal.Vastareasofrainforestarecutinonego(clear
felling)andthemostvaluabletreesareselectedfortimber,leavingthe
othersforwoodchipping.Theroadsthatarecreatedinordertocutand
removethetimberoftenleadtofurtherdamage.
AGRICULTURE

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Muchofthefruit,cerealsandpulseswebuyfromtropicalcountrieshave
beengrowninareaswheretropicalrainforestsoncethrived.Theforests
arecutdowntomakewayforvastplantationswhereproductssuchas
bananas,palmoil,pineapple,sugarcane,teaandcoffeearegrown.As
withcattleranching,thesoilwillnotsustaincropsforlong,andaftera
fewyearsthefarmershavetocutdownmorerainforestfornew
plantations.
MINING

Thedevelopednationsrelentlesslydemandmineralsandmetalssuchas
diamonds,oil,aluminium,copperandgold,whichareoftenfoundinthe
groundbelowrainforests.Therainforeststhereforehavetoberemovedin
ordertoextractthem.Poisonouschemicalsaresometimesusedto
separatethewastefromtheminerals,forexamplemercury,whichisused
toseparategoldfromthesoilanddebriswithwhichitismixed.These
chemicalsoftenfindtheirwayintorivers,pollutingwatersupplieswhich
localpeopledependon,killingfishandotheranimalsthatfeedonthem.
OIL COMPANIES

Rainforestsareseriouslyaffectedbyoilcompaniessearchingfornewoil
deposits.Thisisincrediblydamagingasoftenlargeroadsarebuilt
throughuntouchedforestsinordertobuildpipelinesandextracttheoil.
Thisencouragessettlerstomoveintohithertopristineforestsandstart
slashandburnfarmingorcuttingmoretimberforsaleortheproduction
ofcharcoal.
Onceestablished,theoilpipelineswhichtransporttheoiloftenrupture,
spoutinggallonsofoilintothesurroundingforest,killingwildlifeand
contaminatingthewatersuppliesoflocalvillages.Theresultscanbeseen
inthecaseofTexacoandConocointheLatinAmericanAmazonrain
forests.
DAMS

TheWorldBankandlargecompaniesinvestmoneyindeveloping
countriestobuilddamsforthegenerationofelectricity.Thiscaninvolve
floodingvastareasofrainforest.Damsbuiltinrainforestareasoftenhave
ashortlifebecausethesubmergedforestgraduallyrots,makingthe
reservoirwateracidic,whicheventuallycorrodesthedamturbines.The
damscanalsobecomeblockedwithsoilwasheddownfromdeforested
highlandsinheavyrains.Thiscancausegreatproblems,suchasflooding.
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ThisissaidtobethemainreasonbehindtheflashfloodsofUttarakhand,
whichkilledmanypeople.

Deforestation in Indonesia and Thailand


Deforestationoccursaroundtheworld,thoughtropicalrainforestsare
particularlytargeted.Countrieswithsignificantdeforestationcurrentlyor
intherecentpastincludeBrazil,Indonesia,Thailand,theDemocratic
RepublicofCongoandotherpartsofAfrica,andpartsofEasternEurope,
accordingtoUnitedNationsEnvironmentProgramcollaboratingcenter.
Indonesia

Indonesiaisatreasurechestofbiodiversity;itishometo1015%ofall
knownspeciesofplants,mammalsandbirds.Orangutans,elephants,
tigers,rhinoceroses,morethan1,500speciesofbirdsandthousandsof
plantspeciesareallapartofthecountry'secologicalbiodiversity.
Aslateas1900,Indonesiawasstilladenselyforestedcountry:forests
represented84percentofthetotallandarea.Deforestationintensifiedin
the1970sandhasacceleratedfurthersincethen.Theestimatedforest
coverof170millionhectaresaround1900decreasedtolessthan100
millionhectaresbytheendofthe20thcentury.In2008,itwasestimated
thattropicalrainforestsinIndonesiawouldbeloggedoutinadecade.Of
thetotallogginginIndonesia,upto80%isreportedtobeperformed
illegally.
ThemassdestructionofIndonesia'srainforestsandcarbonrichpeatlands
forpalmoilandpaperthreatensthisandisthemainreasonwhy
Indonesiaisoneoftheworld'slargestemittersofclimatechanging
greenhousegases.ThelivesofmillionsofIndonesianswhodependon
theforestsforfood,shelterandlivelihoodsarealsochangingbeyond
recognitionastheforestdisappears.
LargeareasofforestinIndonesiahavebeenclearedbylarge
multinationalpulpcompanies,suchasAsiaPulpandPaper,andreplaced
byplantations.Forestsareoftenburntdownbythefarmersandplantation
owners.Anothermajorsourceofdeforestationistheloggingindustry,
drivenbydemandfromChinaandJapan.Agriculturaldevelopment

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andtransmigrationprogramsmovedlargepopulationsintorainforest
areas,furtherincreasingdeforestationrates.
TheIndonesianarchipelagoofabout17,000islandsishometosomeof
themostbiodiverseforestsintheworld.In1900,thetotalforest
represented84%ofthetotallandarea.By1950plantationsand
smallholderplantingsoftreecropsstillonlycoveredasmallarea.The
forestcoverbythattimeisestimatedto145millionhaofprimaryforest
andanother14millionhaofsecondaryandtidalforest.Intheearly1970s
Indonesiausedthisvaluableresourcetoitseconomicbenefitwiththe
developmentofthecountry'swoodprocessingindustries.Fromthelate
1980sto2000,productioncapacityhasincreasednearly700%inthepulp
andpaperindustries,makingIndonesiatheworld'sninthlargestpulp
producerandeleventhlargestpaperproducer.
InSumatratensofthousandsofsquarekilometresofforesthavebeen
clearedoftenunderthecommandofthecentralgovernmentwhocomply
withmultinationalcompaniestoremovetheforest.InKalimantan,from
19912014,largeareasoftheforestwereburnedbecauseof
uncontrollablefirecausingatmosphericpollutionacrossSouthEastAsia.
Anestimated73percentofalllogginginIndonesiaisbelievedtobe
illegal.

Privatecorporations,motivatedbyeconomicprofitsfromlocaland
regionalmarketdemandsfortimber,areculpablefordeforestation.These
agroindustrialcompaniesoftendonotcomplywiththebasiclegal
regulationsbyinappropriatelyemployingcosteffectiveyet
environmentallyinefficientdeforestationmethodssuchasforestfiresto
clearthelandforagriculturalpurposes.Manycorporationscould
circumventtheredtape,maximizerevenueprofitsbyemployingillegal
loggingactivitiesaslaxlawenforcementandporouslawregulationsin
largedevelopingcountrieslikeIndonesiaundermineforestry
conservationefforts.
Inthesociallandscape,smallscalesubsistencefarmersinruralareas,
whoreceivedminimaleducation,employabasicmethodofslashand
burntosupporttheiragriculturalactivities.Thisrudimentaryagricultural
techniqueinvolvesthefellingofforesttreesbeforeadryseasonand,
subsequently,theburningofthesetreesinthefollowingdryseasonto
providefertilizerstosupporttheircropactivities.Thisagricultural
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practiceisrepetitivelyemployedonthesameplotoflanduntilitis
denudedofitsnutrientsandcouldnolongersufficetosupport
agriculturalyields.Thereafter,thesefarmerswillmoveontooccupy
anotherplotoflandandcontinuallypracticetheirslashandburn
technique.Thiscontributingsocialfactortodeforestationreinforcesthe
challengesfacedbyforestrysustainabilityindevelopingcountriessuchas
Indonesia.
Onthepoliticalfront,theIndonesiangovernmentalroleincurbing
deforestationhaslargelybeencriticized.Corruptionamongstlocal
Indonesianofficialsfuelscynicismwithregardtothegovernmental
clampdownonillegalloggingactivities.In2008,theacquittalofa
proprietorforatimberfirm,AdelinLis,allegedforillegalloggingfurther
galvanizedpublicopinionanddrewcriticismsattheIndonesianpolitical
institution.Ontheotherhand,theIndonesiangovernmentgrappleswith
themanagementofdeforestationwithsustainableurbandevelopmentas
ruralurbanmigrationnecessitatestheexpansionofcities.However,the
lackofaccountabilitytodeforestationwithpertinencetotransmigration
projectsundertakenbytheIndonesiangovernmentofficialsillustrates
minimalsupportingevidencetotestifytoconsiderationsforforestry
sustainabilityintheirdevelopmentprojects.Thisfurtheraugments
scepticismintheIndonesiangovernment'scredibilityinefficientlyand
responsiblymanagingtheirurbandevelopmentprojectsandforestry
conservationefforts.

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Annual primary forest cover loss, 20002012, for Indonesia as a whole and by island group
(Sumatra, Kalimantan, Papua, Sulawesi, Maluku, Nusa Tenggara and Java and Bali). Dashed
lines are linear fits to the data. Photograph: /Nature Climate Change

Thecompanieswhichremovemillionsofhectaresofforestlanddenyany
allegationsthattheyareinvolvedindeforestation,andinsistthatthey
followsustainableforestmanagementpractices,whichisthattheyplant
eucalyptusandacaciatreesintheplaceoftheforeststheyhavefelled.
Thusthehugeecosystemisturnedintoamonosystemwhichdoesnot
supportthewildlifeitusedto,i.etheelephants,theSumatrantigers,
orangutans.Theriversareturnedintopeatdrainerswhichareunfitfor
consumption.
TheplantationssupplyBritainandtheworldwithtoiletpaper,biofuels
andvegetableoiltomakeeverydayfoodssuchasmargarine,cream
cheeseandchocolate,butscientistsandenvironmentalgroupswarnthat
oneofthe21stcentury'sgreatestecologicaldisastersisrapidlyunfolding.
Indonesia'sdeforestationhasbeenaccompaniedbyrisingviolencetoo.
Manyturnedviolentascommunitiesthathadlosttheirtraditionalforest
foughtmultinationalcompaniesandsecurityforces.
AsingleCanadianminingcompanyisseekingtoexploit1.77mhectares
formining,loggingandpalmplantations.LargeareasofcentralSumatra
andKalimantanarebeingfelledascoal,copperandgoldmining
companiesmovein.MillionsofhectaresofforestinwestPapuaare
expectedtobeconvertedtopalmplantations.
Papuans,someofthepoorestcitizensinIndonesia,arebeingutterly
exploitedinlegallyquestionableoilpalmlanddealsthatprovidehuge
financialopportunitiesforinternationalinvestorsattheexpenseofthe
peopleandforestsofWestPapua.
NinevillageshavebeeninconflictwiththegiantpapercompanyApril,
whichhaspermissiontoconvert,withothers,450,000hectaresofdeep
peatforestsontheKamparPeninsulaincentralSumatra.Becausethe
areacontainsasmuchas1.5bntonnesofcarbon,ithasglobalimportance
inthefightagainstclimatechange.Thelocalsaccusecorruptofficialsof
illegallygrabbingtheirland.Aprilstronglydeniesinvolvementin
corruption.
Thesedevelopmentsareclassedas'growth'butwhatweareseeingisthe
collapseofcommunitiesoffisherfolkorfarmersandincreasingpoverty.
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Weareexchangingbiodiversityformonocultures,localeconomiesfor
globalones,smallscaleproducersarebecominglabourersand
communitylandisbecomingcorporate.Thisisthedirectionweare
going.
Greenpeaceandothergroupsaccusethegiantpulpandpalmcompanies
oftrashingtensofthousandsofhectaresofrainforestayearbutthe
companiesrespondthattheyaretheforestdefendersandwithoutthem
theecologicaldevastationwouldbeworse.Thecompaniesaccusethe
localpopulationofdeforestationwhoemployslashandburncultivation.
Butnow,therearesomesignsofhope.Theheatisnowonotherlarge
palmoilandpapercompaniesafterAsiaPulpandPaper(APP),oneof
theworld'slargestsuchcompanies,waspersuadedbyinternationaland
localIndonesiangroupstoendallrainforestdeforestationandtorely
solelyonitsplantationsforitswood.
Thecompany,whichadmitstohavingfelledhundredsofthousandsof
acresofSumatranforestinthelast20years,hadbeenembarrassedand
financiallyhurtwhenotherglobalfirmsincludingAdidas,Kraft,Mattel,
Hasbro,Nestl,Carrefour,StaplesandUnileverdroppedproductsmade
byAPPthathadbeenmadewithrainforesttimber.
Thesedevelopmentsareclassedas'growth'butwhatweareseeingisthe
collapseofcommunitiesoffisherfolkorfarmersandincreasingpoverty.
Weareexchangingbiodiversityformonocultures,localeconomiesfor
globalones,smallscaleproducersarebecominglabourersand
communitylandisbecomingcorporate.Thisisthedirectionweare
going.
Thailand

Between1945and1975forestcoverinThailanddeclinedfrom61%to
34%ofthecountry'slandarea.Overthenext11years,Thailandlost
closeto28%ofallofitsremainingforests.TheThaiHighlandsin
NorthernThailand,themostheavilyforestedregionofthecountry,were
notsubjecttocentralgovernmentandsettlementuntilthesecondhalfof
thenineteenthcenturywhenBritishtimberfirms,notablytheBombay
BurmahTradingCorporationandtheBorneoCompanyLimited,entered
intotheteaktradeinthelate1880sandearly1890.TheRoyalForest

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Department,createdin1896,soughttoconservetheforestsagainstthe
worstbusinesspracticesofBritish,Thai,andChinesetimberfirmswho
workedintheregion.
Duringthetwentiethcentury,deforestationinThailandwasdriven
primarilybyagriculturalexpansion,althoughteakdeforestationhappened
asadirectresultoftimbercutting.MuchofThailand'srecenteconomic
improvementcanbeattributedtoincreasedagriculturalproductionfor
export.Thecountrywasabletoincreaseproductionbyclearingmuchof
theirforestsandconvertingthemtocropland.
Currently,afterassessingtheextentofthedamage,theThaigovernment
isbeginningtoemphasizeforestrestoration.
Teakhaslongbeenthemostprofitableofthedesirabletropicalwoods
fromthiscountry,andevenaslateas1988teakgeneratedUS$20million
inrevenue,despiteabanin1973ofexportsofteakwood.By1985,
demandforwoodandwoodproductswasmorethanfivetimesthe
sustainablelevel(Hunsaker,1996).Nevertheless,asdesirablewoods
becamemorescarce,revenuesfromtheforestrysectorfell.Deforestation
hasbeendrivenalsobypopulationgrowth,theexpansionofagricultural
land(muchofitforexportcashcrops),landspeculation,illegal
logging,politicalintrigueandinfighting,andthebankingindustry,which
foreclosedonmanyfarmersunabletomakehighinterestpaymentson
loans,anddrivingthemintotheforestforsurvival.
InNovemberof1988heavyrainswashedawaythesoilofthedeforested
slopes,causingmassiveflooding.Villagesandagriculturallandwere
inundated,aswellasmanythousandsofdomesticanimals,werekilled.
ThegovernmentbannedloggingonJanuary14,1989,byrevokingall
loggingconcessions.However,thistripledthepriceoftimberin
Bangkok,andunleashedanorgyofillegallogging.Landlesspeasants
followedtheloggingroads,makingsubstantialinroadsontheforestsby
slashandburnagriculture.ThiswasthedeathknellforThailands
forests.VirtuallyalloftheprimaryforestinThailandhasnow
disappeared.TheloggingbaninThailandalsoledThaitimbercompanies
tomakeprofitabledealswithLaos,CambodiaandMyanmar,andthey
arenowproceedingtotransformtimberrichMyanmarintoanother
Thailand.ThefirstdealwassignedbetweenBandFEnterprisesandthe
Myanmarlocalsin1988,and47morefollowedwithinafewyears
(Hamilton&Chatterjee,1991).Manyofthesedealsaremade,notwith
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thecentralgovernment,butwithrebelliousethnicminoritygroupswho
donotrecognizethecentralgovernment.
Toitscredit,theThaigovernmenthassucceededingreatlyreducing
fertilityrates,hasbannedloggingofnaturalforests,andhasmadesome
attemptsatreforestationandresettlementofsquatters,thelatterwithlittle
success.ThisismainlyduetothevastcorruptionplaguingThailand,its
bureaucraticinefficiencyandinertia,andthefactthatthehigh
governmentofficials(mainlymilitaryofficers)profitgreatlyfromillegal
loggingandotheractivitiesfacilitatingorabettingdeforestation.They
showminimalinterestintheplightoftheimpoverishedruralpopulations
orinthefateofThailandsforests.Andso,thelastgreatteakforestsof
theworldareontheirwaytoextinction.AndThailand,onceamajor
exporteroftimber,hasessentiallyonlysecondaryforestleftandisnow
animporterofwood.
Inconclusion,theagribusinessfirms,pulpandpaperindustriesand
timberloggingindustrieshavecausedhavocinIndonesiaandThailand
throughdeforestation.Thecompanieshavedenieddeforestationthough
andarereportingafforestation,whentheyarereplacingthepristine
forestsbyacacia,eucalyptusandpalmplantations.Thisprofitmotivated
businesscultureshouldbereplacedbyenvironmentalconsciousnessand
empathytowardsthepeopledependingontheforestsfortheirlivelihood.
Thiscannotbeachievedbythegovernmentpoliciesalone,butshouldbe
aconcertedeffortbytheglobalcommunityasawhole.Themultinational
companieshavethemuscletolobbywiththegovernmentaswellasevict
orkillthelocalswhoresist.Hence,thisisonlypossibleifthestake
holdersofthosefirmsraisetheseissuesandcomeupwithasustainable
way.

References
1. http://www.studymode.com/subjects/importanceofbusiness
ethicsinmodernworldpage1.html
2. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jun/29/rate-ofdeforestation-in-indonesia-overtakes-brazil-says-study

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3. http://www.rainforestconservation.org/rainforest-primer/4case-studies-in-tropical-deforestation/c-south-and-southeastasia/2-thailand/
4. http://kids.mongabay.com/elementary/501.html
5. http://wwf.panda.org/who_we_are/wwf_offices/india/india_envir
onmental_problems/
6. http://www.forestrightsact.com/what-is-this-act-about
7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deforestation_in_Thailand
8. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deforestation_in_Indonesia

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