Sunday, August 15, 2010

Indonesia announces moratorium on granting new forest concessions

This article came out WHILE our team was in Indonesia/Malaysia. Norway is giving Indonesia $1 billion but the Indonesian President first had to sign a moratorium on deforestation for 2 years. This sounds great but it is a little more complicated... please read the article below.

The following image shows the rate of deforestation in Indonesia and predicts through the year 2020 the rainforest loss that will occur if the rate does not decrease or stop.

Indonesia announces moratorium on granting new forest concessions
By Jeremy Hance
May 28, 2010

With one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world, the world's third largest greenhouse gas emissions due mostly to forest loss, and with a rich biodiversity that is fighting to survive amid large-scale habitat loss, Indonesia today announced a deal that may be the beginning of stopping forest loss in the Southeast Asian country. Indonesia announced a two year moratorium on granting new concessions of rainforest and peat forest for clearing in Oslo, Norway, beginning in January 2011, however concessions already granted to companies will not be stopped. The announcement came as Indonesia received 1 billion US dollars from Norway to help the country stop deforestation.

"Indonesia is prepared to suspend for two years new concessions for the conversion of peat and natural forest lands," said a statement from Indonesia as reported by Reuters. "Sufficient non-forest lands exist for Indonesia to accommodate the growth of its vitally important plantation industries, a major source of livelihoods in Indonesia." Plantation expansion, including palm oil and pulp-and-paper, will focus on lands that are already degraded.

Greenpeace, which has long fought deforestation in Indonesia, analyzed the announcement in a blog today: "This is good news, especially if it makes it into a presidential decree when [Indonesian President] Yudhoyono gets back to Jakarta, and the moratorium was a precondition laid down by Norway for its $1bn share of the financial deal which is specifically targeted at Indonesia. But it doesn't address the millions of hectares which are already in the clutches of logging companies […]Without including existing concessions, deforestation will still continue apace."

In fact Indonesia has confirmed that a 1.6 million hectare (4 million acres) agriculture estate planned for the Papua province on the western half of the island of New Guinea will still go ahead.

"But it will be in the context of this green policy," Papua governor Barnabas Suebu told Reuters. "The land that will be used for the food estate is of very low value of carbon and biodiversity."

In addition, since the moratorium doesn't go into effect until January—based on the letter of intent—some fear that concessions will be continued you to be granted at a booming rate over the next six months, putting more forests and species in jeopardy.

The announcement and the donation of 1 billion US dollars from Norway is seen as the beginning of a REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) program in Indonesia. In fact a portion of the monies will go toward setting up a monitoring system for REDD+ and beginning REDD+ projects.

The meeting in Norway included the announcement of 4 billion US dollars to begin REDD+ projects worldwide. The funds were promised last year at the Copenhagen Climate Conference and have been put forward by the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Australia, Norway, and Japan. Denmark and Sweden promised an addition 73 million US dollars.

Indonesia is second in deforestation loss after Brazil. Between 1990 and 2005, Indonesia lost more than 28 million hectares of forest, including 21.7 hectares of virgin forest. The country's forest cover has declined from 82 percent in the 1960s to less than fifty percent today.

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