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Published June 18, 2012 07:12 AM

Indonesia aims to lead in Sustainable Forestry

Indonesia "has reversed course" from a forest policy that drove deforestation in previous decades and is poised to become a leader in "sustainable forestry", asserted Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during a speech on Wednesday at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Bogor.

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"Our forestry policy [in the 1970s and 1980s] was to allow anyone to cut our forests so long as it gave benefits to development," he said. "It seemed the logical thing to do back then. We had lots of forests; we had to reduce poverty; we needed to grow our economy. As a result, there was a time when we experienced very serious deforestation."

"Today, such a policy is no longer tenable. Losing our tropical rain forests would constitute the ultimate national, global and planetary disaster. That’s why Indonesia has reversed course by committing to sustainable forestry."

President Yudhoyono highlighted the signing of a two-year moratorium on new logging and plantation concessions in some 14.5 million hectares of primary forests and peatlands; a new law that "would permanently conserve 35 percent of our tropical rain forests", according to Yudhoyono; and the planting of some 3.2 billion trees under the 'One Billion Indonesia Trees for the World program.' Yudhoyono also noted his 2009 pledge to reduce emissions 26 percent below a projected 2020 business-as-usual baseline, a commitment that could rise to 41 percent with international assistance like that being provided by Norway.

But to some, his speech fell short, failing to outline specific targets for the Rio+20 conference, glossing over some concerns, and including some dubious math. For example, CIFOR Daniel Murdiyarso said that claims about emissions reductions from a drop in Indonesia's deforestation rate may be premature.

Photo shows President Yudhoyono making his global address at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Bogor, West Java, Indonesia. Credit CIFOR.

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