PEKANBARU, SUMATRA -Turning just one Sumatran province's forests and peat swamps into pulpwood and palm oil plantations is generating more annual greenhouse gas emissions than the Netherlands and rapidly driving the province's elephants into extinction, a new study by WWF and partners has found.
The study found that in central Sumatra's Riau Province nearly 10.5 million acres of tropical forests and peat swamp have been cleared in the last 25 years. Forest loss and degradation and peat decomposition and fires are behind average annual carbon emissions equivalent to 122 percent of the Netherlands total annual emissions, 58 percent of Australia's annual emissions, 39 percent of annual UK emissions and 26 percent of annual German emissions.
Riau was chosen for the study because it is home to vast peatlands estimated to hold Southeast Asias largest store of carbon, and contains some of the most critical habitat for Sumatran elephants and tigers. It also has Indonesia's highest deforestation rate, substantially driven by the operations of global paper giants Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited (APRIL).
At last December's Bali Climate Change Conference, the Indonesian minister of Forestry pledged to provide incentives to stop unsustainable forestry practices and protect Indonesia's forests. The governor of Riau province has also made a public commitment to protect the province's remaining forest.
This groundbreaking report gives U.S. businesses a roadmap for getting the biggest bang for their buck, said Adam Tomasek, managing director of the Borneo and Sumatra program at WWF-US. An investment in Riau Province would both protect some of the world's largest carbon stores and safeguard endangered tigers, elephants and local communities.
Carbon emissions are likely to increase, the study predicted, as most future forest clearance is planned for areas with deep peat soils.
|Contact: Trishna Gurung|
World Wildlife Fund