Sunday, 27 July 2008

RI resumes tree-planting drive to absorb more carbon

This is yet another example of the Indonesian government telling the world what it wants to hear - in return for big money that is extremely unlikely to be used for its publicised purpose. We should not forget, this same government continues to sell off rainforests to palm oil companies. Money, money, money is all the government Ministers want. Any guesses as to where such money will end up?!

07/25/08 22:14

RI resumes tree-planting drive to absorb more carbon

By Andi AbdussalamJakarta (ANTARA News) -

Indonesia will continue its tree planting drive in order to recover its damaged forests, re-green its denuded land areas and help reduce global warming by providing homes for billions of tons of carbon sink.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono --who launched a nation-wide program to plant 79 million trees late last year-- is expected to announce another drive to plant 100 million threes across the country next November.

"Indonesia will have an additional potential to absorb 2.4 million tons of carbon if the government is successful in its efforts to mobilize the people to plant 100 million trees by the end of 2008," Forestry Minister MS Kaban said on Wednesday.

Kaban said that besides the additional carbon absorption potential from the 100 million trees, Indonesia also had other potentials to absorb billions tons of carbon.The 100 million trees, to be planted on 100,000 hectares-- is worth about US$12 million on the assumption that each hectare could absorb 24 tons of carbon at the price of US$5 per ton, the minister said.

Indonesia which has 120.3 million hectares of forests is designating 37.5 million hectares of its forests to serve as a carbon sink in the global Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation in Developing Countries (REDD) project.

The REDD scheme was discussed in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Indonesia`s tourist resort island of Bali last December."If for each hectare in the REDD project Indonesia is paid US$10 a year, we will earn US$3.75 billion per year," Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar said at the time.

According to Forestry Minister MS Kaban, the problem is that Indonesia is still facing difficulties in marketing its forest areas which are able to absorb carbon. "There are mandatory and voluntary markets.

The market must be prepared as well as possible. We have to prepare mandatory market at home while the voluntary market must be prepared abroad," Kaban added.He said that voluntary markets abroad already existed. So, the thing that remained to be done was negotiations with other countries.

The potential Indonesia has to absorb carbon is great."The carbon has potential with a plus value which would be obtained from planting trees. It would help reduce global warming and return the genetic resources of forests. This excludes the value to be obtained from the wood," he said.

Therefore, he called on all components of the people to nurture tree planting spirit that had begun to arise since the 79 Million Tree Plantation Movement launched by President Yudhoyono in November 2007."If we look at the double value of planting trees, we will feel obliged to spread the spirit of planting trees.

Regional governments are asked to be active in motivating their citizens, particularly in an effort to overcome natural disasters due to environmental damage," he said.

Indonesian forests which cover 120.3 million hectares, along with those of other tropical rain forest countries --such as Brazil, Cameroon, Congo, Costa Rica, Gabon, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea-- function as the lungs of the world. Indonesia and these countries have joined ranks amid the rising global warming threat.Forest fires and massive illegal logging in Indonesia raise concern that while its forests function as carbon absorber, they also contribute to gas emissions released into the atmosphere.

Actually, Indonesian forests keep potential economic values.Elfian Effendi, executive director of Greenomics Indonesia, a natural resources advocacy non-governmental organization, once said that the economic value of Indonesia`s forests reached hundreds of billions of dollars.

Indonesia still has 36.5 million hectares of conservation and 36.7 million hectares of production forests with, due to their carbon absorption capacity, have a combined economic value of between 216.4 and 234.4 billion dollars, he said.

Apart from that, Indonesian forests also hold almost 9,000 megatons of carbon concentration worth about 134.5 billion US dollars, he said. Elfian said that advanced countries must pay 134.5 billion dollars if they wanted to prevent Indonesia`s deforestation from releasing 7,000 megatons of carbon into the atmosphere.

"If advanced states want Indonesia to be at zero deforestation position on its production forests, they have to pay some 278.6 billion dollars as compensation," Elfian said.Virtually, a mechanism for carbon trade between developing countries and developed nations was discussed in the UNFCCC in Bali last year.

As host country, Indonesia drafted a scheme called the Reductions of Emissions from Deforestation in Developing Countries (REDD). Under the REDD scheme, developing countries would market tons of carbon stored in their forests to developed countries who have obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Minister Rachmat Witoelar said that developed states were estimated to have set adaptation fund program amounting to between US$20 and US$30 billion a year.However, Elfian Effendi said the REDD scheme with which Indonesia is expected to get US$3.75 billion incentive a year, belittled the economic value of Indonesian forests. (*)