Indonesia Using $1 Billion in Forest Protection Funds to Cut Down Forests?


Peat forest leveled for palm oil in Riau, Indonesia. Photo credit: Wakx via Flickr/CC BY-SA

It was a trailblazing 'showcase' deal in global climate negotiations: Norway agreed to send $1 billion to Indonesia (most of it coming from Norway) if the nation would put a moratorium on logging its natural forests and peat lands, and replant degraded areas. The deal would reduce carbon emissions by millions of tons, and prevent widespread habitat loss. Indonesia accepted, and the details were to be finalized at the upcoming climate summit in Cancun. There's just one small problem -- Indonesian politicians and major timber and palm oil companies appear to be gaming the agreement. It looks like they plan on declaring millions of hectares of perfectly good forest 'degraded' so they can cut it down and replant it to harvest palm oil -- and still collect the cool billion.A Greenpeace report analyzed internal documents in Indonesia, and revealed the potentially deal-breaking news. From the report:

A landmark $1 billion deal between Indonesia and Norway ... is in danger of being squandered, unless action is taken to protect it from notorious industrial rainforest destroyers in the palm oil, paper and pulp sectors. Expansion plans show that these sectors intend to utilise the Indonesian government's ambiguous definitions of forests and degraded land to hijack the funds and use them to subsidise ongoing conversion of natural forests to plantations.

If the report is accurate, it would make for a truly perverse deceit -- Indonesian industry would essentially be using funds intended to protect the nation's forests to instead chop them down. It's like paying a firefighter to put out a blaze in your house, only to have him spend the money on kindling.

Greenpeace's report reveals that Indonesia has concrete plans to expand its destructive palm oil industry twofold, and "to triple its pulp and paper production by 2025" -- all of which would require cutting down vast expanses of its forest. Coincidentally, it appears that Indonesia is gearing up to, well, cut down vast expanses of its forest.

The report reveals the specifics:

  • The area earmarked for expansion by these sectors includes 40% of Indonesia's remaining natural forest - an area the size of Norway and Denmark combined.

  • Up to 80% of Indonesia's remaining peatland is also at risk, as well as nearly 50% of remaining forested orangutan habitat in Kalimantan

  • Government figures suggest the forest and peatland carbon at risk amounts to 38GtC - equivalent to four years' worth of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Now, I'm no businessman, but it seems that Norway is getting a raw deal ...

More on Deforestation in Indonesia
Major Asian Paper Corps Undermine Indonesia's Carbon Emission
16 Countries That Send the United States as Much Oil as Nigeria
More Dirty Deforestation: 55% of Indonesia's Logging Illegal

Tags: Carbon Emissions | Conservation | Deforestation | Oil