Indonesia makes it to 2008 Guinness World Records as fastest forest destroyer on the planet

Feature story - May 3, 2007
The next edition of the Guinness Book of World Records will list Indonesia as the country with the fastest rate of forest destruction on the planet. Indonesia is destroying an area of forest equivalent to 300 football pitches every hour. It has already lost 72% of its large intact ancient forests (1) and half of what remains is threatened (2).

A Greenpeace activist dressed as a logger chainsawed a 20-meter wooden wall symbolizing the Indonesian forests for a "happening art" symbolically depicting the alarming rate of Indonesian forest destruction during Greenpeace Indonesia's launching of the Forest Defenders campaign on March 16; 2007 at Jakarta's Independence Proclamation Monument.

Guinness World Records, considered a global authority on record-breaking achievements, has confirmed to Greenpeace (3) that this unfortunate record will feature in its 2008 record book to be published in September this year. It will read: "Of the 44 countries which collectively account for 90% of the world's forests, the country which pursues the world's highest annual rate of deforestation is Indonesia with 1.8 million ha (4,447,896 acres) per year between 2000-2005 - a rate of 2 per cent annually or 51 square km (20 square miles) every day." (4)

"It is a national shame for Indonesia to own this distinction in the record books," said Hapsoro, Greenpeace Southeast Asia forest campaigner. "These record rates of destruction make Indonesia not only the fastest forest destroyer but also the world's number one greenhousegas polluter from deforestation." (5)

The record breaker was announced as the international community are considering reduced or avoided deforestation to mitigate climate change at the Third Working Group meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) taking place in Bangkok. Up to 25% of greenhouse gas emissions comes from tropical forest clearance.(6)

Indonesia's forests cover over 120 million hectares but the forestry sector is plagued by lawlessness, corruption and forest plunder, which the Indonesian Government is failing to control. International demand for timber and paper, as well as commodities such as palm oil, is driving this destruction.

"Only Indonesia can protect its forests and the people who depend on them, but countries such as the EU, China, Japan and North America must make sure that they are not a clearing house for products of forest destruction," said Hapsoro.

Greenpeace is calling on the Indonesian Government to stem the tide of forest destruction and to reduce its contribution to climate change by imposing a moratorium on commercial logging operations in its rainforests. Greenpeace is also calling for countries to ban the import of forest products that come from illegal or destructive sources.

Notes to Editors: (1) Roadmap to recovery, 2006, Greenpeace International (see: http://www.intactforests.org/) (2) World Resources Institute, 1997, The Last Frontier Forests. (3) Copies of the certificate from Guinness World Records that confirms the world record are available on request. (4) While Indonesia is destroying its forests the fastest in terms of its total forest cover, Brazil destroys a larger area of forest every year. (5) Hooijer, Silvius, M. Wosten and Page, 2006. PEAT-CO2 Assessment of CO2 Emissions from Drained Peatlands and SE Asia. Delft hydrolics report Q3943. (6) Houghton, RA (2003) Revised estimates of the annual net flux of carbon to the atmosphere from changes in land use and land management 1850 - 2000. Tellus 55B: 378-90; Houghton, RA (2005a) Tropical Deforestation as a source of greenhouse emissions.

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