Friday, November 30, 2007

Minister says 24 Indonesian islands disappeared: report

Terra Daily, via Agence France-Presse: Indonesia has lost 24 of its more than 17,500 islands due to natural disasters and environmental damage, a minister said Thursday according to the Antara news agency. Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Freddy Numberi said four islands disappeared when the massive tsunami devastated Aceh on December 26, 2004, the state-run agency reported.

Twenty other islands in Sumatra's Riau province and in the Seribu island group in Jakarta Bay had also vanished due to exploitation and environmental damage, Numberi said. Consequently, Indonesia's total tally of islands has fallen from 17,504 to 17,480 and the new figure reported to the United Nations, he said. "Scientists have even predicted that Indonesia could lose at least 2,000 islands by 2030 if the government fails to anticipate it and take preventive measures," the minister was quoted as saying.

The new figures come as Indonesia is set to host a major UN climate change conference on the resort island of Bali next week. The meeting will see nations attempt to lay the groundwork for an agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions after the current phase of the Kyoto protocol expires in 2012. A report from WWF released this week warned that Indonesia would be one of the nations hardest hit by climate change.

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