photo: chem7 via flickr
Though Indonesia and Malaysia seem hell bent on chopping down their rainforests and replacing them with palm oil plantations, a new study in the journal Conservation Letters shows that selling carbon credits from the intact forests could be just as profitable as converting them to agriculture, and go a long way towards preserving biodiversity (not to mention stopping the orangutan from going extinct):In the article, report lead author Oscar Venter of the University of Queensland says that oil palm plantations currently threaten some 3.3 million hectares of forest in Kalimantan (the Indonesian part of the island or Borneo).
However his estimates for carbon payments for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) program could offset the lost profits from palm oil production, at prices of $10-33 per tonne of CO2, or $2-16 per tonne if forest conservation targets only cost-efficient areas.
Proposed Plantations Home to Many Threatened Species
The report points out that some 40 globally threatened mammal species are found within the areas due to be deforested for palm oil, including the Bornean orangutan and the Borneo pygmy elephant.
Deforestation Takes Indonesia Into the Top Tier of Carbon Emitters
It's also worth reminding people that conversion of forest into cropland in Indonesia is such a large source of greenhouse gas emissions, that when these emissions are taken into consideration alongside those from burning fossil fuels, Indonesia is in the top five emitters in the world.
Globally deforestation amounts to almost 30% of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the entire transportation sector.
More: Carbon payments as safeguard for threatened tropical mammals
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Southeast Asia Paying High Environmental Price for Palm Oil