Weixin Ng, MEM

2010 TRI Fellow in Indonesia

Evaluating the impact of population growth and inter-city transportation on land use and development in Java, Indonesia

According to the preliminary results of the 2010 National Census, 136.56 million people or 57.5% of Indonesia’s population reside on the island of Java (with an area of 132,187 km2, 6.9% of Indonesia’s total land area) making it the most populous island in the world with an average population density of 1,033 persons per km2. Population distribution on the island, however, is highly uneven, a result of both the colonial and post-independence development the island experienced as well as its unique geography. The series of 38 volcanoes, interconnected by highlands and running along the East-West spine of the island, imposes risks and difficult conditions for human habitation, but also influences patterns of agricultural land-use and human habitation on the island through the provision of volcanic soil rich in alluvium.

While analysis at the regency-city level indicates that population density across the entirety of Java is generally above 600 per km2, more than half of Java’s population resides in urban centers, mostly on the Northern coastal plain, with population densities in cities reaching as high as around 40,000 per km2 in Bogor. Analysis also indicates that Java is home to 7 of Indonesia’s 10 largest cities, all with at least one million inhabitants. The Greater Jakarta Metropolitan area (also known as Jabodetabek), with a population of 15.4 million, is also the 15th largest Megacity or urban agglomeration in the world. The “State of the World’s Cities 2008-2009: Harmonious Cities?” report from UN Habitat, projects that the population in Jakarta alone in 2025 will be 12.4 million.

Even though the decentralization and earlier transmigration policies put forth by the Indonesian government has arrested the rural-urban migration phenomenon, the sheer size of the existing urban populations within Javanese cities will maintain annual urban growth rates.

The urban form and distribution of cities and settlements across the island of Java in the modern period is therefore expected to have a larger influence from the inter-urban land transportation linkages between major cities. Depending on the principal inter-urban land transportation mode, population density may or may not increase and nucleate adjacent to the transportation infrastructure, thereby directly influencing the geographical extent of desa-kota regions or sprawl across Java. The implications of extensive desa-kota regions include challenges to the efficient provision of public infrastructure and services such as power, clean water, healthcare and public transportation. In this age associated with the discussion of climate change, its impacts, and the mitigation/adaptation measures required, desa-kota regions typically have lower population densities than actual cities. With poorer governance and control, desa-kota regions tend to have higher per-capita energy and emissions footprints and therefore act as significant obstacles on a sustainable development pathway.

The summer study examines the balance of land transport development between rail and toll roads in Java, and subsequently evaluates the environmental impact of developmental pathways associated with shifts in the balance, including land use conversion and emissions factors by mode. Recommendations to this skewed balance are also generated at the completion of the summer.