The Vegetation and Physiography of Sumatra

Series: Geobotany (v. 22)
Hardback
Fifteen years ago, approximately half the world population was estimated to live in continental and insular South-East Asia (Burma, Thailand, Kampuchea, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, Philippines). Then the region had a population growth of four million people every month, and the problem of malnutrition was acute for the rural population. International agricultural development organisations decided that their primary aim would be to double existing levels of agricultural production and, taking account of population growth, to double it again by the end of the century (Whyte 1976). Today, while global issues have greatly affected the parameters of the problem, the situation remains both serious and difficult. Despite impressive efforts in education and health, Indonesia for example, where population (179 millions) growth eased off only slightly between 1980 and 1990 (from 2. 3 percent to 1. 9 percent), is having to cope with increasing difficulties in managing natural resources and particularly its evanescent forest assets which, until 1986, were the second largest source of national revenue. Indonesia has the second largest surface area of tropical rain forests in the world (after Brazil) and thus all the problems linked with management and disappearance of those forests. The latest estimate gives a figure of 109 million hectares of forest in 1990, of which 40. 8 million hectares are production forests (Anon. -F AO 1990).