Forest policy undercuts SBY’s emission pledge

Forest policy undercuts SBY’s emission pledge

Adianto P. Simamora ,  The Jakarta Post ,  Jakarta   |  Wed, 01/13/2010

The Forestry Ministry’s plan to allow more mining firms operate in forests could hinder the government’s efforts to meet emission reduction targets, as pledged by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The ministry said it planned to allocate 2.2 million hectares of forests for mining activities between 2010 to 2020.

“The plan to convert 2.2 million hectares of forests for mining could release about 550 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere,” Greenomics Indonesia executive director, Elfian Effendi, said.

“This policy runs counter to President Yudhoyono’s speech [in Copenhagen] on emission reduction targets.”

The government has pledged to cut emissions by 26 percent by 2020 using its own budget of Rp 83 trillion over five years. President Yudhoyono also said the country could reduce emissions by 41 percent if developed nations provided about Rp 168 trillion in financial aid to mitigate climate change in Indonesia.

Given current trends, Indonesia is forecasted to emit 2.95 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) in 2020.

With a reduction of 26 percent as targeted, Indonesia could reduce this figure by 0.7 billion tons, mostly from forests and wetlands.

The country’s carbon emissions come mostly from  the change in land use and forestry (accounting for 48 percent of total national emissions), energy (21 percent), peat fires (12 percent), waste (11 percent) and agriculture (5 percent).

The climate change working group chief at the Forestry Ministry, Wandojo Siswanto, said the ministry would tighten permits on the use of forests for mining activities.

“The ministry receives many proposals to convert forests into mining areas, but we need to issue permits selectively and consider the expected emissions,” he said.

He said the ministry would slash about 20 percent of hotspots to minimize forest fires and combat deforestation.

Wandojo said emissions would be cut through means such as combating illegal logging, avoiding deforestation, rehabilitating land and forest watersheds, restoring production forest ecosystems and improving fire management.

Between 2004 and 2009, the ministry allocated 1.2 million hectares of forests for mining activities.

The government has long been under pressure from environmental activists over mining activities in forests that has damaged the environment and kept surrounding villagers in poverty.

Indonesia is home to 120 million hectares of rainforest, making it the third-largest rainforest country after Brazil and the DR Congo.

Deforestation in Indonesia — claimed to be the world’s worst with an area the size of Switzerland lost every year — has already led to the damage of 59 million hectares of the country’s forests.


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