Indonesia has the third largest stretch of tropical forest after the Amazon and Congo. Despite being a quarter the size of the Amazon, Indonesia lost almost twice as much forest as Brazil did in 2012. In what claims to be the most comprehensive study done yet, researchers suggest that almost twice as much of the primary forest is being cut down in Indonesia as in Brazil.

The government and the UN have been maintaining that Indonesia lost 310,000 hectares of forest a year between 2000 and 2005, and that it increased to 690,000 hectares annually from 2006 to 2010. However, this study shows that those numbers were probably dramatically higher given that they lost 840,000 hectares of Indonesian forest in 2012. This is compared to the 460,000 hectares lost in Brazil, which historically has been the global leader in deforestation.

Annual primary forest cover loss, 2000–2012, 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

These numbers are particularly important since Indonesia is the world’s third-largest producer of greenhouse gasses behind China and the United States. Of these emissions, 85% come from the destruction and degradation of the forest. The earth’s dwindling primary forests are the largest above-ground carbon stores.

It is suspected that the discrepancies between the figures are due to technical and bureaucratic problems in Indonesia and better information becoming available. Belinda Margono, who gathered data at the Ministry of Forestry in Indonesia for 7 years, says that “[the] Government cannot share data fully because of laws. There is no transparency.”

Read the original article here: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jun/29/rate-of-deforestation-in-indonesia-overtakes-brazil-says-study