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November 18, 2009 6:56 pm

Deforestation: Indonesia’s burning issue

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For decades land use change was rarely considered a major contributor to global warming. Then, after the publication of the Stern Report in 2006 and other research, it was recognised that it accounts for almost 20 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. Indonesia and Brazil, through deforestation, degradation of carbon-rich tropical peat and fires, are the main culprits, accounting for some 40 per cent and 33 per cent of the land use total.

Much less has been done to tackle this than other areas, mainly because there were no economic incentives for maintaining standing forests. Developing forest nations argued that industrialised countries had deforested unhindered for centuries their growth should not be handicapped.

At the UN climate change summit in Copenhagen, this is expected to be redressed through a new scheme to reward the protection of standing forests. Called Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, or Redd, it would give carbon credits for protecting standing forests, reforesting degraded land and planting new trees.

Will the new financial credits help restore the damage done? John Aglionby reports from Indonesia’s tropical forests.

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