Sunday, 22 November 2009

Rally backs SBY's greenhouse pledge

Adianto P. Simamora , THE JAKARTA POST , JAKARTA | Sun, 11/22/2009

Hundreds of Greenpeace forest campaigners staged a rally here Saturday to throw their weight behind President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in his pledge to slash emissions from forest and peatland clearing.

The activists called on Yudho-yono to turn his promises into concrete actions to stop the destruction.

"If business runs as usual, Yu-dhoyono's promises on emissions cuts will be meaningless, because deforestation will continue," Greenpeace Southeast Asia forest campaigner Yuyun Indradi said.

"We have come to voice our support for Yudhoyono to meet his target on emissions cuts. The President has shown his true political leadership though his commitment to reducing emissions."

Around 150 Greenpeace campaigners from Surabaya, Semarang, Bandung and Jakarta - carrying banners, one which reads "Stop talking, start acting to save forests for our future" - staged the rally in the National Monument (Monas) area.

The rally came after the Greenpeace set up "Climate Defender Camp" in Semenanjung Kampar, Riau, to protest the destruction of peatland, which has been estimated to contain an equivalent of around 2 gigatons of greenhouse gases.

Palalawan Police forced the camp protesters to leave and deported Greenpeace activists and journalists covering the event.

Yuyun called on Yudhoyono to first revoke policies that were damaging to forest protection programs.

The Forestry Ministry, under former minister Malam Sambat Kaban, issued the 2009 ministerial decree on the natural forests, which allows the country's pulp and paper firms to extend the use of natural forests until 2014 (from the previous of 2009).

The Agriculture Ministry also issued a regulation allowing the clearing of peatland for agricultural use, including for oil palm plantations.

Indonesia has more than 20 million hectares of peatland, most of them are scattered in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Papua islands.

The deforestation rate of very deep peatlands reached 398,000 hectares per year in Sumatra between 2000 and 2005, data from WWF Indonesia shows.

In Central Kalimantan, peatland degradation is occurring in both shallow and deep areas at the rate of 20,000 to 25,000 hectares per year.

As of 2000, about 2.5 million hectares, or 12 percent of the country's total land area, was managed as forestry production concessions (HPH), 2.1 million hectares or 10 percent as industrial timber plantations (HTI) and 2.8 million hectares as oil palm plantations.

Greenpeace said that Semenanjung Kampar was one of the largest carbon stores in the world with peat layers up to 15 meters deep, holding more than 2 gigatons of greenhouse gases.

"If the peat land in Semenanjung is cleared and drained for pulp and paper companies, it will only increase Indonesia's emissions and then undermine Yudhoyono's climate commitment," Yuyun said.

Yudhoyono has pledged to the international community that Indonesia will cut its greenhouse emissions by 26 percent by 2020, using the state budget to fight climate change.

The voluntary emissions cut would be achieved with regulation of the forestry and energy sectors.