In a rare piece of good news for Indonesia's forest, a regional governor has announced an interim ban on deforestation in Riau, one of the areas currently worst affected by rapid deforestation. The ban, especially if made permanent, is also good news for the climate.
New palm oil plantation with forest it replaced in the background.
2007 we highlighted how Indonesia's forests are the fastest
disappearing on Earth and how the subsequent burning of peatlands
is releasing huge amounts of carbon. Now that work has paid off
with the province of Riau pledging an interim halt the destruction
of its forests - a move that will prevent billions of tonnes of
carbon from entering the atmosphere.
Indonesia's forests are being cleared for
palm oil plantations, timber and paper products. Beneath much
of this forest are thick layers of peat that lock up billions of
tones of carbon. Once the forest is cleared the peat swamp is
drained and often burned to make the soil more suitable for palm
oil plantations. Burning of the forest and peat results in
massive emissions of greenhouse gases, making Indonesia the
world's third largest climate polluter.
Riau Province has huge areas of forest covered peatlands. It has
been experiencing rapid clearance for palm oil plantations. In
forest defender camp helped expose this devastation. Now the
Riau Governor has announced the temporary ban on deforestation,
which will remain in place until a national law is agreed.
"The moratorium is an important first step and an opportunity
for the local government, forest communities and other stakeholders
to improve forest governance," said Arief Wicaksono, Greenpeace
Southeast Asia's Political Advisor.
The move follows Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's
pledge at the G-8 Summit in July to reduce carbon emissions from
deforestation by 50 percent by 2009.
National ban needed now
However to ensure their G-8 pledge is more than just nice words,
the Indonesian Government needs to quickly ban deforestation
"The Indonesian government should declare a national moratorium
on forest conversion to bring a halt to the vicious cycle of
peatland drainage, forest fires and resulting biodiversity loss due
to forest destruction." said Zulfahmi, Greenpeace Southeast Asia
Rising global demand for palm oil is driving the rapid expansion
of palm oil plantations. Several major multinational companies
dominate the palm oil market.
Following our campaign in April, Unilever, the world's biggest
user of palm oil announced its support for a moratorium on further
deforestation for palm oil. Only decisive action from both the
biggest users of palm oil and the Indonesian Government can halt
the deforestation and cut Indonesia's massive annual emissions.
That's exactly what we are campaigning for now. A win would not
only be massively significant for protecting what remains of
Indonesia's diverse rainforest but also a vital step in tackling
Forest need protecting around the world - Tell European law makers to ban illegal timber imports.
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