Indonesia committed to rainforests protection despite financial constraints

The Jakarta Post: Aditya Suharmoko: 27/05/2010

Cash-strapped Indonesia remains committed to protection of its rainforests as part of the global initiative to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) Plus scheme, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono says.

“Working with our developed country partners, we will protect Indonesia’s globally significant carbon- and biodiversity-rich tropical rainforests while helping local populations become more prosperous,” Yudhoyono said Thursday in a speech during the opening session of the Oslo Climate and Forest Conference at Holmenkollen Park Hotel Rica in the surrounding hills of Oslo.

The President’s statement affirmed his pledge on Wednesday night that Indonesia “would conduct a moratorium for two years where we stop the conversion of peat land and of forests” during a historical agreement signing with Norway, which provides a US$1 billion grant for Indonesia in phases to protect the Southeast Asian nation’s forests.

Yudhoyono also said Indonesia would preserve its forests “with or without international help”.

But having financial limitations, Yudhoyono expected the REDD Plus scheme to be pushed forward.

“Cancun (meeting in Mexico) must produce a robust and workable decision. In this regard, a decision on REDD Plus could bring about the immediate action that we need to take,” he said in the speech.

Indonesia still has a 14.15 percent poverty rate of about 230 million people in population, based on latest data released by the Central Statistics Agency.

In Indonesia, forest areas of a size equaling 300 soccer fields vanish every hour, according to Greenpeace.

Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said based on a March’s international conference in Paris about 54 countries agreed to provide $4 billion in commitment to take necessary actions to protect the world’s largest rainforests located in Brazil and Indonesia, which function as global “lungs” to transform carbon dioxide into oxygen.

“In today’s market forests are more worth dead than alive. We want to change that … There will be more (incentives) in leaving (them) than cut,” he said.

He added that all developing countries should be in the driver’s seat to reach the global goals with the help of multilateral institutions like the United Nations and the World Bank.

In his speech at the same forum, Britain’s Prince Charles said the time available to turn the words into actions was “running out”. He also praised the agreement signed by Indonesia and Norway.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said he would look forward to a successful outcome in the next meeting in Cancun.

 

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