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The Importance of Religion and Ecology in Indonesia

Bagir, Zainal Abidin

There are two important reasons to get serious about religion and ecology in Indonesia. First, in the past decade environmental problems in Indonesia, where forests make it one of the most important “lung systems” of the world, have shown the tendency to get worse. Ironically, this trend seems to coincide with the start of the democratization process. Themove from authoritarianism to democracy means the weakening of state authorities and law enforcement, including in areas where we expect the state to be bold—environmental protection is an important example here.More specifically, decentralization or the sharingof powerby the central statewith the local agencies alsomarkedabreak with the previous centralized state; but did not automatically bring wealth to the local people and instead resulted in the exploitation of natural resources by certain local powers. As a result, in the past few years Indonesia has been consistently rated as one of the world’s worst emitters of greenhouse gasses, mainly due to deforestation.1 In today’s interdependent world, this fact implies greater significance far beyond the boundaries of this archipelago. Second, it is undeniable that religion plays a very important public role in Indonesia. In many sectors of life, religion is present. Regardless of any judgment about the implications of this situation, this is a fact to be accepted.