Then vs Now (Borneo Island)

Hi everyone!

I am Indri from THINK-Research Team. I hope you and your family are safe and healthy!

What are you doing this week?


We heard so many natural disasters in Indonesia. Also, there was a plane accident on 9th February. Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management recorded 136 natural disasters in 1-16 January 2021 (Tempo, 2021):

- Landslides: 25 cases

- Landslide: 25 cases

- Waterspouts: 12 cases

- Earthquakes: 2 cases

- Tidal waves: 2 cases



Natural disasters across Indonesia in January 2021


However, two big disasters were recorded, such as an earthquake in West Sulawesi and South Kalimantan flood. A 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck West Sulawesi (Mamuju and Majene) in Indonesia on 15th January 2021. As of 21st January, 11 people died in Majene and 79 in Mamuju. 3 victims were missing in Majene. Currently, 9,905 people are displaced. 663 people were injured (189 people were seriously injured, 240 people had moderate injuries, and 234 were slightly injured). The Mitra Mankarra District Hospital and governmental building in Majene city have collapsed. Besides, other buildings and households have suffered heavy damages (CNBC Indonesia, 2021).


On the other side, flooding in South Kalimantan is the worst flood affecting this region in the last 50 years. Regional Board for Disaster Management of South Kalimantan Province recorded that 21 people died. Also, there were 256,516 people affected in 11 districts/cities. Banjar Regency is the worst affected area with a total of 17,996 households and 72,994 people, followed by Hulu Sungai Tengah Regency with 16,100 families or 64,400 people, 13,568 households or 28,400 people in Barito Kuala Regency, and 8,870 households or 27,815 people in Tanah Laut District (Jawa Pos, 2021).


Five days ago, @greenpeaceid posted a video about the forest condition in Borneo Island in the last 50 years. I also found a paper in 2016: Rising floodwaters: mapping impacts and perceptions of flooding in Indonesian Borneo and another one: Four decades of forest persistence, loss and logging on Borneo. Let's see these pictures below:



Forest Cover Map in Borneo Island


Four decades of forest persistence, clearance and logging on Borneo


I was born and grew up in Kalimantan (East Kalimantan). Kalimantan or Borneo Island has 4 big rivers: Mahakam, Barito, Kapuas, and Martapura. Kalimantan Island is one of the world's lungs, covering 40.8 million hectares. In addition, this island has mangroves area and mineral resources. When I was in Junior High School, I had an assignment to write a paper. I wrote about the oil refinery. I read some books about oil refinery in Kalimantan. I also read the report and knew that Kalimantan has gold mining, coal, gas, and palm oil plantation. This island contributes a lot to the national income. I also know Sulawesi Island since my grandmother is living there and I stayed there for 3 years. Like Kalimantan, Sulawesi Island has some mineral resources, such as nickel and gold, and palm oil plantation.


But, we can see what the impacts of those activities. Deforestation and land-use change happen. So, when people talk about what causes the flood in South Kalimantan, there are some arguments. Some people said it was caused by high rainfall intensity when some people argued that the flood was caused by environmental degradation. If you check the data, you could find that hundreds of mining holes were not reclaimed and almost 50% of the 3.7 million hectares of land were controlled by oil palm and mining companies.


I learnt about the hydrological cycle when I did a research about hydropower. So, in the river area, the river absorption capacity will determine the surface water. Then, the river absorption capacity will depend on the surrounding ecosystem. Also, the change of ecosystem will affect the erosion or the ground level.


Hydrological Cycle


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Thank you for reading. See you next post!

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