Australia to Help Save Indonesia’s Forests

CANBERRA/SEMINYAK ~ The Australian government announced this week that it will give AUS$4.5 million (US$4.3 million) to help reduce rampant deforestation in neighboring countries including Indonesia, where environmentalists say primordial forests are being cut down at the highest rate in the world.

Some $3 million of the funds would be channeled through Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), based in the West Java town of Bogor, Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said.

The remaining $1.5 million would be distributed among non-governmental organizations involved in the forestry sector.

“Globally, there is a shortage of research on how to reduce deforestation and Australia’s support for the centre will help bridge this gap and support international efforts to take action,” said Wong.

Environmental groups say a forest size the same as a football pitch is being cleared in Indonesia every minute, wiping out the habitats of many already endangered species, such as the imperiled orangutan.

“In Bali, the international community agreed that demonstration activities were needed to show that activities to reduce deforestation could be effective, long-lasting, support local economies, and reduce greenhouse emissions,” Wong said, referring to last December’s UN Climate Change Conference.

“Australia is helping get these activities up and running,” she added.

Budhy Kristanty of the forest-conservancy center’s communications office told The Bali Times that the funds would focus on reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation.

“CIFOR is currently initiating collaborative research and a capacity-building project with the Papua New Guinea Forest Research Institute on sustainable forest management, forest ecosystem services and climate change,” he said.

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