‘Shocking’ wetlands destruction in Indonesia fuels climate change

‘Shocking’ wetlands destruction inIndonesia fuels climate change

7 November 2006

published by www.antara.co.id

Indonesia — Shocking” destruction of wetlands in Indonesia isfuelling global warming with the emission of huge amounts of greenhouse gasesinto the earth’satmosphere, an environmental group said here Monday.

Wetlands International, a Netherlands-based NGO, said massive amounts of peatbogs have been drained, logged and burned in the southeast Asian nation,producing large quantities of carbon dioxide.

“New research shows the enormous impact of peatland degradation on climatechange,” it said in a statement released to coincide with the opening of aUN climate change summit in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.

Such activity in Indonesia, largely caused by growing global demand for hardwood,paper pulp and palm oil, is emitting some two billion tonnes of carbon dioxideinto the air each year, the group was quoted by AFP as saying. “Theseamounts change the global picture concerning carbon emissions,” it said.

Layers of peat, normally wet, dry and begin decomposing and emitting carbondioxide when swampy areas are drained for commericial agriculture use. Theprocess is rapid in the tropics and is often accelerated by fires.

In Indonesia, these fires have caused massive amounts of acrid and pollutingsmoke to disrupt air travel, create health problems and cause regional anger asthe haze has billowed across neighbors Singapore and parts of Malaysia.

The group said if peat emissions were taken into account, along with industrialemissions, they would bring Indonesia from the 21st-largest carbon dioxideproducer in the world to the third, ahead of India, Russia and fully developedeconomies like Britain and Germany.

Peatland emissions are not now calculated under the Kyoto Protocol thatseeks tolimit the amount of greenhouse gases countries produce and so there is littleincentive to reduce them, the group said. The statement was issued ahead of aTuesday presentation of a report on the matter to the UN conference by WetlandsInternational and its partner Delft Hydraulics, it said.

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