Today’s Solutions: December 03, 2021

Indonesia has the third-largest area of rainforest in the world, but it also bears one of the highest deforestation rates on the globe, especially of primary forests – undisturbed, mature tropical forests that are important for biodiversity and carbon storage, among other benefits.

Over the last three years, however, the country’s bleak rate of deforestation has slowed in pace. And according to a new study, one reason for the turnaround may be the country’s antipoverty program – an initiative associated with a 30 percent reduction in tree cover loss in villages.

In 2007, Indonesia introduced a program that gives money to its poorest residents under certain conditions, such as requiring people to keep kids in school or get regular medical care.

Such social programs, called conditional cash transfers (CCTs), are designed to reduce inequality and break the cycle of poverty. Sometimes, however, CCTs can actually negatively affect environmental protection because as people get more money, some of them may clear more land for agricultural needs. In Indonesia, this was not the case.

After analyzing satellite data showing annual forest loss from 2008 to 2012 in more than 7,000 forested villages across multiple islands, scientists from the National University of Singapore discovered that the program was actually associated with a 30 percent reduction in deforestation.

One likely explanation is that the rural poor are using the money as makeshift insurance policies against inclement weather. Typically, if rains are delayed, people may clear land to plant more rice to supplement their harvests, but with CCTs, individuals can use the money to supplement their harvests instead.

Essentially, the new study presents “good evidence” that, at least in rural villages in Indonesia, giving people a helping hand helps them cut down fewer trees.

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

Rwanda’s mountain gorillas represent a successful conservation story

Following years of poaching and habitat destruction, the population of mountain gorillas in Rwanda once numbered under 260 individuals. Now, Rwandan gorillas represent a rare conservation success and a key economic engine for the East ... Read More

Germany plans to put 15 million electric vehicles on its roads by 2030

Making electric cars the dominant vehicles on the road is key to curbing planet-warming emissions and protecting the climate. In a bid to reach that goal, an increasing number of countries and cities across the ... Read More

Here are 5 Indigenous-led eco-charities you can support today

The climate crisis has caused us to reconsider our consumerist lifestyles and turn to Indigenous peoples to learn from their superior understanding of living in harmony with nature. Here is a list of five organizations ... Read More

Scientists discover a peculiar new planet

Deep into the Hercules constellation, 855 light-years away from Earth, lies a record breaking exoplanet. This newly discovered gas giant was named TOI-2109b, and the thing that makes it so special is the fact it ... Read More

High altitude experiment shows that snow monkeys are excellent at fishing

Snow monkeys, also known as the Japanese macaque, are native to many of the main islands of Japan. These fluffy creatures are the most northern-based non-human primate out there, meaning they have some cold temperatures ... Read More