Why Does Land Matter? A Perspective from Forestry

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The land is one of the common issues that has been widely discussed besides food, water, and energy.

It cannot be denied that everyone needs land for various needs, i.e, for agriculture, industry, and settlement.

Moreover, FAO has predicted the human population will increase to 9.1 billion by 2050. That means more food and housing are needed.

Based on the trend in the future, the world population will be dominated in the urban areas that will horizontally grow and press the rural areas which are dominated by agricultural land.

The question is, how do we supply the human needs when the area is constant but the needs increase?

Land conversion is the solution that is often offered when humans are pressed to fulfill their needs, especially the needs for agricultural commodities.

The pressure eventually has caused the expansion of plantation and agriculture which thus leads to reducing the forest area.

Sunset in Tropical Forest
Sunset in Tropical Forest

On the other side, the forest has the lowest bargaining position compared to the other land use type based on its economic value.

As a result, the forest has been shifted easily to the other land use type when faced with a variety of strategic interests.

However, the forest is the largest carbon reservoir inland since it can store the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as biomass.

On the contrary, the forest is also one of the main sources of carbon emission.

When forest or land is burned for land clearing, the carbon that has been stored is released into the atmosphere as Green House Gasses (GHG).

Meanwhile, deforestation and forest degradation are known as the main contributor to the national GHG emissions in Indonesia. GHG emissions have caused global warming in which has a further effect on climate change.

The land problem is a complicated issue since it has involved various interests in different parties, but it does not mean there is no solution.

To prevent the negative impact resulted in the land conversion, the government should give the incentives to the landowner who remains his land as forest, especially in the upstream areas which are the area used for water and soil conservation.

In the end, engage all parties, both policymakers, and practitioners to value forest not only based on its wood, but also its services, so that there will be no more forest conversion due to undervaluing the benefits obtained from forest.

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