Greens chide “weak” Indonesian deforestation pledge

Date: 
May 04, 2012

A coalition of green groups in Indonesia on Thursday criticized a moratorium on deforestation as "weak", saying the year-long ban still excludes large tracts of the country's carbon-rich forests, according to news agencies.

Greenpeace, which is leading the coalition, said government maps that mark protected areas exclude 3.5 million hectares (8.6 million acres) of peatland -- biodiverse swamp-like forests that hold rich carbon reserves.

Greenpeace said the government must review all existing logging permits on the country's natural forests and peatland, and improve governance based on an accurate set of maps.

"The government cannot hope to improve forest governance and ensure the effectiveness of the moratorium without taking these crucial steps," Greenpeace Southeast Asia political campaigner Yuyun Indradi said in a statement.

An earlier review of the maps by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that the moratorium leaves almost 50 percent of Indonesia's 100 million hectares of natural forest and peatland unprotected.

"The current moratorium is weak and does very little in effect to protect the forests," said Deddy Ratih, a forest campaign manager for Friends of the Earth Indonesia.

The two-year moratorium came into effect last year as the centrepiece of a deal with Norway, which pledged USD1 billion to Indonesia under a UN-backed scheme to reduce emissions from deforestation.

Indonesia is often cited as the world's third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, due mainly to rampant deforestation by the palm oil, mining and paper industries.