Another sickening revelation: We all unknowingly, unwittingly and without malicious intent have all played a part in the greatest deforestation known to man. We blame palm oil now — but it started way back in the 1960s — with sweetheart deals between the corrupt Suharto regime in Indonesia and Western “development experts.”
Here’s a fascinating, infuriating and ultimately agonizing history of how plywood led the deforestation craze, way back when.
The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, Australia and Japan together organised financial assistance through a development plan to attract private foreign investment. Development was a neat new narrative in the 1960s. But it silenced other narratives such as conservation and the rights of indigenous people.
With the help of western economic advisers, Suharto became known as the “Father of Development”. His development order crafted the basic forestry law of 1967 and associated foreign investment laws. These laws designated 143 million hectares — three-quarters of all of Indonesia’s land area — as Forest Area.