Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Indonesia is wilting

Alexandra Di Stefano Pironti in IPS: Unless the rapid deforestation in one of the world’s most richly-forested countries is controlled, Indonesians may one day wonder, "where are all the flowers gone." To those lyrics by legendary U.S. singer Joan Baez they might also have to add, and where are all the tigers, elephants, orangutans, birds and ancient forest communities gone.

While the 1960s icon was singing against the U.S. war in Vietnam, green groups in Indonesia are waging war against deforestation, in a country that is home to about 15 percent of all known species of plants, mammals and birds. Some are already critically endangered as a result of deforestation by the palm oil, mining and paper industries.

As Indonesia marks the first year of a two-year moratorium on deforestation that followed a pledge of a billion dollars from Norway, a coalition of international and local green groups urged Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono this week to strengthen the moratorium so that it becomes a real instrument to reduce, and ultimately halt, deforestation in the country.

"The existing moratorium only suspends the issue of new forest use permits, it did not order a review of existing permits. There are other glaring loopholes in the moratorium which need to be addressed if Indonesia is to honour its international commitments," Yuyun Indradi, forests policy adviser, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said at a press briefing Monday.

Such concerns are being raised ahead of the Rio+ summit on sustainable development next month....

An Indonesian forest, in an old image from the Tropenmuseum Collection

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