Monday, June 30, 2014

Indonesia Overtakes Brazil in Forest Losses Despite Moratorium

A truck picks up earth containing nickel ore from a mine cut out of forests on Halmahera island in eastern Indonesia, March 19, 2012. (Credit: Reuters/Neil Chatterjee) Click to enlarge.
Indonesia has for the first time surpassed Brazil in clearing tropical forests and losses are accelerating despite a 2011 moratorium meant to protect wildlife and combat climate change, scientists said on Sunday.

Indonesia's losses of virgin forests totaled 60,000 sq kms (23,000 sq miles) - an area almost as big as Ireland - from 2000-12, partly to make way for palm oil plantations and other farms, a study said.  And the pace of losses has increased.

"By 2012, annual primary forest loss in Indonesia was estimated to be higher than in Brazil," where clearance of the Amazon basin has usually accounted for the biggest losses, the scientists wrote in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Deforestation in Indonesia in 2012 alone was 8,400 sq kms (3,200 sq miles) versus 4,600 sq kms (1,800 sq miles) in Brazil, which has managed to reduce losses in recent years, it said.

"We need to increase the law enforcement, the control in the area itself," said Belinda Margono, lead author of the study at the University of Maryland and who also works as an official at the Indonesian forestry ministry.

"The rainforests are the lungs of the planet.  You have lungs to breathe and if you get rid of the lungs, the planet's going to suffer," said Matthew Hansen, a co-author of the report at the University of Maryland.

Indonesia Overtakes Brazil in Forest Losses Despite Moratorium

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