From: L A Times from MICHAEL CASEY, AP Environmental Writer
Published June 5, 2009 12:01 PM

Study finds forest conservation in Indonesia could be as profitable as palm oil plantations

Selling credits for the billions of tons of carbon that are locked in Indonesia's tropical rain forests could be as profitable as converting these areas into palm oil plantations, a study released Friday found.

The study, in the current issue of the peer-reviewed journal Conservation Letters, also found that conserving the 3.3 million hectares (8.2 million acres) that are slated to become plantations on Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo, would boost the region's biodiversity. The 800 proposed plantations that were studied contain 40 of the region's 46 threatened mammals including orangutans and pygmy elephants, the study found.

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"Our study clearly demonstrates that payments made to reduce carbon emissions from forests could also be an efficient and effective way to protect biodiversity," said Oscar Venter, a conservation biologist at the University of Queensland in Australia and the study's lead author. "We now need to see policy discussions catch up with science because at the moment the potential co-benefits of linking forest protection to biodiversity are not getting the attention they deserve."

The study concluded that conserving forests would be more profitable than clearing them for palm oil if the credits could be sold for $10 to $33 per ton. Currently, the rate per ton is around $20, the study said.

Article continues:  http://www.latimes.com/business/nationworld/wire/sns-ap-as-palm-oil-versus-conservation,0,6065382.story

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