Indonesia takes new step to combat loss of forests, fires

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From US News & World Report:

“Indonesia has strengthened its moratorium on converting peat swamps to plantations in a move a conservation research group says will help prevent annual fires and substantially cut the country’s carbon emissions if properly implemented.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s amendment to the moratorium regulation, which was issued on Monday, expands it to cover peatlands of any depth and orders companies to restore areas they’ve degraded.

 

Indonesia’s move was welcomed by Norway, which in 2010 pledged $1 billion to help the country stop cutting down its prized tropical forests but has released little of it. As a result of the expanded regulation, Norway said it would give $25 million to Indonesia to fund restoration of drained peatlands and another $25 million once an enforcement and monitoring plan is ready.

 

Draining of peat swamps by palm oil and pulp wood companies is a big contributor to destruction of tropical forests in Indonesia and the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. The land conversion worsens annual dry season fires that release huge amounts of carbon stored in the peat. Many of the fires are deliberately set to clear land of its natural vegetation.

 

Indonesia has made major commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect its tropical forests, which are home to critically endangered species, but deforestation has continued largely unabated. A study in the journal Nature Climate Change estimated that by 2012, Indonesia was clearing 840,000 hectares (2 million acres) of forests a year, more than any other country.”

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