Saturday, 13 March 2010

Greenpeace demands immediate end to forest destruction

Greenpeace demands immediate end to forest destruction

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Greenpeace activists scaled the Ministry of Forestry building in South Jakarta and unfurled a giant banner reading "Plantations are not forests".

Greenpeace feared that the inclusion of `plantations in the definition of forests, would lead to massive concealment of the ongoing emissions from peatland and forest destruction that has made Indonesia the world`s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, according to information on the Greeanpeace Southeast Asia`s official website, Saturday.

Greenpeace, along with a number of environmental and civil society organizations, have condemned the Indonesian government`s attempts to classify `plantations as forests while allowing continued destruction of critical habitats like peatland forests and the last remaining biodiversity hotspots.

Further, the rising demand of crude palm oil (CPO) for biofuels in the international market has triggered the expansion of the palm oil concessions. The move by the ministry may well augur further destruction of forests to allow more plantations camouflaged as forests, Greenpeace said in its press statement.

"Minister Zulkifli Hasan must immediately withdraw all plans to categorise plantations as forests and shift his focus towards protection of Indonesia`s forests , its biodiversity and the millions of forest dependent communities who rely on them for their livelihood and for future generations.

If this plan is approved, massive forest destruction will follow and Minister Zulkifli will be responsible for Indonesia failing to meet President Yudhoyono`s emission reductions commitment," said Joko Arif, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Forest Campaigner.

Currently Indonesia has one of the fastest rates of forest destruction in the world and is the third largest contributor to climate change globally.

President Yudhoyono made his commitment to cut Indonesia`s emissions by 26% in 2020 and by 41 percent with international support in September last year. But so far no real action has been taken to fulfill this commitment. The government stands by as palm oil and paper giants like Sinar Mas and APRIL continue with their destructive business as usual.

"The international will and funding to protect Indonesia`s forests is there. It is therefore contradictory for Indonesia to promote further plantations at the expense of forests. This funding should not be used for the conversion of forests into plantations, or the promotion of palm oil based biofuels.

If the government is serious about cutting emissions and about taking action to avert the catastrophic impacts of climate change, the most effective step they need to take is to declare a moratorium on forests destruction, and full peatland protection" Joko said.

Indonesian NGOs, including Greenpeace, Walhi, Forest Watch and Sawit Watch have also written to the Forestry Minister and the EU Ambassador to Indonesia to warn them of the consequences of their misguided policies, the statement said.