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A brief history and analysis of Indonesia's forest fire crisis. (Abstracts).

Gellert, Paul K. 1998, A brief history and analysis of Indonesia's forest fire crisis. Indonesia, no. 65: 63-85.

Lost in a haze of smoke, paradoxically Indonesia lost some of its international invisibility in 1997 when it was afflicted by forest fires whose smoke caused problems throughout the whole region. At first sight there would seem to be little connection between the fires, which could be seen as a natural crisis in the wake of El Nino, and the subsequent financial crisis in 1998. Nevertheless, the author of this article argues that the two are inextricably linked. Both crises seem natural but have, in fact, been generated by the particular political economy of natural resource-based development in Indonesia over the last three decades. The first is a consequence of the pattern of forest exploitation over the past thirty years, recently culminating in the over-rapid conversion of much of Sumatra and Kalimantan into oil-palm plantations. Concomitantly the financial crisis is the outcome of the unfettered deregulation of the banking system and of private investment generally to finance the resource-based developmen t. The argument is divided into four parts. He first reviews the interaction between natural and anthropogenic causes of earlier forest fires in East Kalimantan. After this he summarizes the data on the 1997-98 fires. The third section is a survey of the history of timber and forestry development from logging to industrial tree and agricultural tree crop plantations. The final section is devoted to the politics of blame and accountability, which continue to thwart the development of alternatives. This article was written before the events of May 1998 in Indonesia (Rosemary Robson-McKillop).
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Publication:Borneo Research Bulletin
Article Type:Abstract
Geographic Code:9INDO
Date:Jan 1, 1999
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