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Indonesia and Australia sign deforestation pact

Indonesia and Australia sign deforestation pact

Indonesia and Australia sign deforestation pact
Rhett A. Butler,
April 9, 2007

Indonesia and Australia have agreed to reduce deforestation in southeast Asia according to Malcolm Turnbull, the Australian Minister for the Environment and Water Resources. Turnbull was in Jakarta meeting with the Indonesian Minister for Forestry, M. S. Kaban, and the Minister for the Environment, Rachmat Witoelar.

The announcement comes shortly after the Australian government announced a AU$200 million fund to fight global warming by cutting deforestation rates. Deforestation is responsible for about 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and Indonesia currently has the world’s highest rate of forest loss, losing some 30,000 square kilometers of forest in 2006 according to preliminary estimates.

Deforestation in Indonesia is especially damaging to global climate due to large amounts of carbon stored in the country’s peatlands. When these peatlands are drained or burned, they release hundreds of millions to billions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere. Research by Wetlands International and Delft Hydraulics suggests that in some years, destruction of these ecosystems could make Indonesia responsible for 10 percent of world greenhouse gas emissions from human activities.

Deforestation in Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo)

“Every year about 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions comes from the destruction of the world’s forests,” said Turnbull at a press conference in Jakarta. “That is second only to the burning of fossil fuels and more than all of the world’s emissions from transport.”

Earlier this year Indonesia said it would seek compensation for slowing forest loss, joining a coalition of tropical forest countries that aims to be paid for forest conservation.

According to a joint statement from the Australian and Indonesian governments, “both countries acknowledged that emissions from deforestation are a significant component of global greenhouse gas emissions… [and] that unsustainable forest management and illegal logging degrades the environment, endangers plant and animal life and adversely affects the social and economic wellbeing of communities.”

The governments said they will work together to improve sustainable forest management using technology to assess and monitor forest resources .

By some estimates, Indonesia could be eligible for billions of dollars in “avoided deforestation” carbon credits if it were able to significantly reduce deforestation rates.

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