Indonesian forest destruction dammed

Sumatra, Indonesia — Our volunteers and local forest communities have halted the destruction of an area of swamp forest in Sumatra, Indonesia. They are building five dams across three-metre deep canals used in logging and draining peatland for conversion into a commercial palm oil plantation.

Destroying the forest there would not only breach Indonesian regulations for forest protection, and an Indonesia's Presidential decree, but would also lead to the release of large quantities of greenhouse gases.

Thick layers of peat underlie most of Indonesia's swamp forest. Over time, the peat layer has locked up millions of tonnes of carbon. Once forests are cleared, peat swamps are drained and decompose to release the stored carbon as carbon dioxide. Forests are often also burned, prior to the planting of palm oil saplings, further compounding the climate problem.

Such is the scale of forest destruction across Indonesia that the huge amounts of greenhouse gases being emitted have made the country into the world's third largest climate polluter, behind the US and China.

More than 30 volunteers will work for a week with people from the nearby village to construct the dams. By halting drainage operations, the dams will prevent the peatland from drying out and releasing carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas. The dams will also prevent the palm oil company from illegally burning the currently waterlogged peatland, which would otherwise further add to global warming.

"Palm oil companies are breaking the law and draining the very life out of Indonesia's remaining peatland forests," said Hapsoro, Greenpeace South East Asia forest campaigner. "And they are adding substantially to the problem of global warming."

The damming is taking place on a plantation held by the PT Duta Palma company. Our on-site investigations of the peatlands, conducted from the Forest Defenders Camp in Riau, and together with peatland experts, have brought to light the flagrant violations of regulations intended to protect these areas.
This urgent problem needs a global solution. We have set up the Forest Defenders Camp on the boundary of forest clearing in a region of Sumatra.

source: www.greenpeace.org

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