photo: Eyes on the Forest
Echoing a recent Greenpeace report on the deforestation in Indonesia by the paper industry, Eyes on the Forest is highlighting the actions of Asia Pulp & Paper and APRIL in illegally clearing forests and undermining government commitments to make significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.Due to clearing of rainforest for timber, paper, and agricultural use, Indonesia ranks as the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world--if these emissions sources are included, which isn't always done--behind China and the United States.
Under a recent agreement, brokered by Norway, Indonesia's president committed to a two year ban on all new logging concessions of forest on peat lands and undisturbed forest, effective January 2011. However, Eyes on the Forest points out that immediately following the agreement the Ministry of Forestry issued new permits in the very type of forest, in Riau province on Sumatra, to be protected starting in six months' time. These new concessions represent 29-50% of APP's and APRIL's need for raw materials in Riau.
Not exactly violating the letter of the agreement, but certainly violating the spirit.
Ian Kosasij of WWF Indonesia commented:
APP and APRIL are undermining our President's commitment to reduce the country's emissions by up to 41%. We call on APP and APRIL to immediately stop using any timber associated with the conversion of tropical rainforest and draining of peatlands.
APP and APRIL Pledge to Preserve Forests, Then Clear Them
Eyes on the Forest made some more specific allegations, based on "irrefutable photographic evidence":
APP has been draining peat and clearing natural forests in Riau's UNESCO Biosphere Reserve while advertising globally its full support for the reserve. APP has been clearing crucial habitats of the critically endangered Sumatran tiger increasing the often deadly conflicts between people and tigers, while widely advertising its contribution to tiger conservation in the same area in this "Year of the Tiger". APP has been clearing High Conservation Value Forests that it had publicly committed to protect, while promoting its commitment to protect high conservation value forests in its PR campaigns.
APRIL has been clearing High Conservation Value Forests in deep peat areas, which WWF had delineated and the company had agreed to protect. By doing so APRIL broke the agree with its international auditor, Rainforest Alliance's SmartWood Program, who suspended the company's FSC Controlled Wood certificate.
Peat Soils Store Huge Amounts of Carbon
If all this talk of peat lands and deep peat areas has you running for Wikipedia, the issue is basically this: Peat soils store huge amounts of carbon in them, accumulating over the years in some places to depths of ten feet or more. When the forest on top of them is cleared, the soils begin rapidly drying out, in the process releasing the stored carbon into the atmosphere. So, in addition to the loss of carbon sequestration by the trees above ground, you've also released the carbon in the soil.
More on Deforestation:
Illegal Logging Makes Indonesia World's Third Largest Emitter of Greenhouses Gases
More Dirty Deforestation: 55% of Indonesia's Logging Illegal + Cargill's Two Hidden Palm Oil Plantations
Walmart, KFC, Burger King Paper Purchases Destroying Indonesia's Rainforests: Greenpeace