Greenpeace Confronts Deforestation in Oil Palm Plantations

Feature story - October 22, 2007
To highlight the continuing destruction of peatland forests in Indonesia and its impacts on the global climate, Greenpeace today hung a banner with the message “Save our forest, save our climate” on the remaining forest adjacent to an encroaching oil palm plantation in Riau province of Sumatra.

Greenpeace climber M. Ediandre climbing tree to hang a 10m x 12m banner "Save our forest save our climate" on the remaining forest adjacent to an encroaching oil palm plantation in Indragiri Hulu. Riau Province to shine a spotlight on the ongoing destruction of peatlands forests in Indonesia.; In the short-term; prior to the December 2007 Kyoto Protocol meeting in Bali; Greenpeace is calling on the Indonesian government to commit to a moratorium on conversion and destruction of Indonesian peatland.; Deforestation accounts for approximately one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Greenpeace hang a 10m x 12m banner ìSave our forest, save our climateî on the remaining forest adjacent to an encroaching oil palm plantation in Indragiri Hulu, Riau Province to shine a spotlight on the ongoing destruction of peatlands forests in Indonesia.

Greenpeace hang a 10m x 12m banner ìSave our forest, save our climateî on the remaining forest adjacent to an encroaching oil palm plantation in Indragiri Hulu, Riau Province to shine a spotlight on the ongoing destruction of peatlands forests in Indonesia.

The activity on the forest wall which was launched from the Greenpeace Forest Defenders Camp (FDC), comes on the heels of Minister Anton Apriyanto's recent road show in Europe where he reportedly proclaimed that protecting the environment is at the heart of Indonesia's future plans for palm oil production and companies caught destroying protected forests will be prosecuted.

"Despite the government rhetoric on forest protection, it is clear that the destruction of our peatland forests in Kalimantan and Sumatra especially for palm oil production goes on unhindered. The conversion of forests into plantations not only destroy valuable forests, but is also the main culprit behind Indonesia's status as the third largest greenhouse gas polluter globally. In the face of this destruction, government assurances of sustainability sound empty and hollow," said Hapsoro, Greenpeace Southeast Asia forests campaigner.

Greenpeace's Forest Defenders Camp is located near an oil palm plantation in Riau where forest clearing and peat swamp draining activities continue unabated (1). Simultaneous with the forest wall activity, the group also started training local people from the villages of Kuala Cenaku and Kuala Mulia, to empower the local communities in fighting peat and forest fires. The FDC is part of Greenpeace's international effort to protect the world's remaining forests and the global climate, ahead of the United Nations climate change conference in Bali in December.

Tropical peatlands have been created over tens of thousands of years under peat swamp forests. As these forests die they form large peat mounds, rich in the accumulated carbon of generations of trees. Indonesia has 22.5 million hectares of peat soils, which is 12 per cent of Indonesia's land area and 83 per cent of South-east Asian peatlands. It is estimated that Southeast Asia's peat soils store 42 billion tonnes of carbon.

Greenpeace contends that current palm oil production in Indonesia is far from becoming sustainable. The country's forests are still being cleared mindlessly resulting in the destruction of habitats of many endangered species, the displacement of local communities and the release of vast amounts of greenhouse gases.

"While forest protection appears to be high on the Indonesian government's agenda especially on the lead-up to the most important global meeting on climate change this year, the government must match its rhetoric with decisive action, beginning with a moratorium on this mindless conversion and destruction of our peatland forests. It must act to protect the country's vast carbon stores and ensure the implementation of an effective action plan against forest fires," Hapsoro added.

In the longer-term the Indonesian government must act and commit to a moratorium on deforestation and industrial logging , a review of laws, governance and law enforcement and the implementation of a responsible and just land-use planning system.

Taking action to reduce deforestation must be part of the 'Bali Mandate', which would establish the ambition, content, process and timetable for negotiating the next phase of international action against climate change due to be concluded by 2009. Stabilising the world's climate depends on countries making deep cuts in their energy-related emissions and completely halting deforestation.

Notes to editors: (1) Volunteers at the FDC are also engaged in spotting forest fires both on the ground and in the air through the flying of paramotors, conducting further peatland depth surveys and will undertake a comprehensive assessment of biodiversity in the area.

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