US$40 billion to cut deforestation & create jobs

US$40 billion to cut deforestation & create jobs

India for the first time served as global host of the United Nations’ World Environment Day 5 June, marking the occasion with a week-long series of events and the release of the UN Report “Forests in a Green Economy: A Synthesis”. But as Indonesian government officials and environmentalists alike celebrated the vital role the nation’s forests play in sustaining biodiversity and maintaining a stable global climate, they remain deeply divided about the effectiveness of official preservation measures.

NEW DELHI, India, June 5, 2011 (ENS) –

India for the first time this year served as global host of the United Nations’ World Environment Day June 5, marking the occasion with a week-long series of events across the country – walkathons, treeplanting and a green marketplace, films and art, and a seminar honoring the role of women in environmental protection.

The events all had a forest theme in keeping with this International Year of Forests.

India’s Environment and Forests Minister Shri Jairam Ramesh chaired a one day seminar on “Nature and Livelihood: Women’s Perspective” in New Delhi. He sadi, “Conservation of forests is crucial for sustainable development and green economy of the country,” and added that women are “crucial” for forest conservation.

About 100 women from civil society organizations across the country shared their attempts to protect forests during interactive sessions with eminent environmentalists and grassroots leaders.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner and UN Resident Co-ordinator for India Patrice Couer Bizot highlighted the environmental concerns in the global perspective and praised the initiatives of women leaders at grassroots level in India in environmental awareness and forest conservation.

An environment seminar for World Environment day, from left: UN Resident Co-ordinator for India Patrice Couer Bizot, Environment and Forests Minister Shri Jairam Ramesh, Achim Stein, UNEP executive director (Photo courtesy Ministry Environment and Forests India) 

Steiner released the UNEP report, “Forests in a Green Economy: A Synthesis,” at a news conference with Ramesh in New Delhi.

Investing an additional $40 billion in the forestry sector each year could halve deforestation, create millions of new jobs and help tackle the devastating effects of climate change, the report finds.

The number of trees planted could rise by 140 percent by 2050 and as many as 30 million new jobs could be created by that same year.

Steiner said forestry is one of the key sectors capable of helping the world transition to a ‘green economy’ model that is resource-efficient and low in its use of carbon.

“There are already many encouraging signals,” he said. “The annual net forest loss since 1990 has fallen from around eight million to around five million hectares and in some regions such as Asia, the Caribbean and Europe forest area has actually increased over those 20 years.”

Minister Ramesh announced the establishment of the Gaura Devi Award to recognize the initiatives of Gaura Devi, a village woman who started the treehugger, or Chipko, movement in 1974 by gathering several dozen women to hug the trees in her village to protect them from being felled.

The Gaura Devi Award will carry a citation and cash prize of Rs 2 lakhs (US$4,470).

A green market, or Green Haat, in New Delhi attracted more than 50 exhibitors, showcasing the initiatives of forest dwellers, minority forest produce federations, women’s self-help groups, and NGO partners. Ramesh declared that this green marketplace will now be a regular event.

A biodiversity film festival was organized in partnership with the Centre for Media Studies in New Delhi. From June 1-4, the festival screened more than 20 films on biodiversity from eminent national and international film makers.

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh flags off the World Environment Day Walkathon in New Delhi, June 5, 2011 (Photo courtesy Ministry Environment and Forests India) 

To create awareness among children, a painting competition took place today at Delhi Zoo.

Ramesh administered a pledge for “saving our environment” and waved a flag to start a Green Walkathon from India Gate, New Delhi with about 1,000 participants from all sections of the society.

In the southern city of Bangalore, another green marathon was flagged off in the morning.

A workshop on Emerging issues in Wildlife Conservation was organized by the Wildlife Institute of India at the northern city of Dehradun.

An exhibition on Mumbai’s environment, in partnership with Bombay Natural History Society, highlighted the environmental issues of metropolitan and coastal cities at Chhatrapati Shivaji and Churchgate Stations this week.

In Dubai, about 150 ghaf trees were planted in Mushrif Park Sunday to mark World Environment Day 2011 by Dubai Municipality, in cooperation with the Environmental Centre for Arab Towns and Panasonic Middle East.

Models presented garments recycled from old clothes during a fashion show for World Environment Day in Seoul, South Korea on June 1.

Elsewhere around the world BirdLife International launched a new section of its website to highlight the organization’s new initiative, BirdLife’s Forests of Hope. The program aims to prevent deforestation or promote restoration of natural forest at up to 20 sites covering at least five million hectares of tropical forest by 2015.


Bruce Gale in the Straits Times (3 June 2011):

FORESTS As Life Support is the theme of World Environment Day this Sunday. But as Indonesian government officials and environmentalists alike celebrate the vital role the nation’s forests play in sustaining biodiversity and maintaining a stable global climate, they remain deeply divided about the effectiveness of official preservation measures.

‘The whole thing is ridiculous,’ Greenomics spokesman Elfian Effendi told me when I met him in Jakarta late last month. Mr Elfian was referring to a presidential decree on May 19 implementing a long-delayed moratorium on forest exploitation. The moratorium is part of a US$1 billion (S$1.23 billion) climate change agreement President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed with Norway last year to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation. It is to last two years but could, in theory, be extended. Its implementation will be overseen by a special task force headed by reform-minded technocrat Kuntoro Mangkusubroto.

According to Mr Agus Purnomo, a presidential adviser on climate change, the moratorium applies to all peatlands and primary forests that have not been reserved for any purpose and for which no permits had been issued. In terms of area, this represents 64 million ha of Indonesia’s 130 million ha of total forest cover.

When government intentions first became known last year, the proposed moratorium was hailed by environmentalists as a major step forward. Now that the details have been announced, however, activists such as Mr Elfian see the move as potentially doing more harm than good.

One reason for this is the long list of exemptions designed to mollify the plantation, logging and mining industries. Companies already holding permits to clear forest areas, for example, will be permitted to go ahead. Permit extensions will also be considered, as will new projects focusing on geothermal power, oil and gas exploitation, as well as sugar and rice plantations. Unconfirmed reports say that dozens of new permits have been issued in recent months.

Investors are believed to be eyeing the government’s huge Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate programme in West Papua. This province has the largest area of virgin forests in the country.

Yet another source of concern is the fact that the May 19 presidential decree made no specific mention of the need to conserve natural secondary forest. According to Greenomics, an NGO dealing in environmental issues, Indonesia has about 36 million ha of secondary forest, of which about 60 per cent is still in good condition. Will this area now be open to exploitation without restriction? No one outside the highest level of government really knows. Yet these forests are home to a wide range of protected wildlife, including the Sumatran tiger and the orang utan.

Yet other uncertainties have to do with cartography. Mr Elfian showed me a map of protected forests issued with the presidential decree that was barely half the size of an A4 sheet of paper. Based on outdated satellite data from 2009, it had a scale of 1:19,000,000. As such, the map was far less detailed than the 1:2,000,000 normally used by government departments for national spatial planning. It was also well short of the 1:25,000 scale recently recommended by the Corruption Eradication Commission for companies applying for licences for forest exploitation and conversion.

Imprecision opens up numerous opportunities for graft. Clearly, much work remains to be done to identify exactly which areas are to be protected and which are not.

To support its claimed commitment to sustainable development, the government can point to stepped up efforts at forest replanting. According to Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan, Indonesia plans to plant 1.5 billion trees this year to mark United Nations International Forest Year 2011. The figure, up from 1.3 billion last year, accounts for 50 per cent of the ministry’s budget.

Unfortunately, Indonesian officials are still trying to lay the blame on Biomedical Research Council people other than themselves. Problems implementing this scheme in the outer islands, for example, are explained by reference to the difficulty officials have encouraging public participation in cultures where planting local vegetables and medicinal herbs is rare.

A statement posted on the website of Norway’s environment ministry the day after the presidential decree was issued was nevertheless optimistic. The moratorium, it said, reflected ‘a very serious development choice’ involving efforts to combine strong economic growth with a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

But while the moratorium can be seen as important in establishing sustainable development as a key principle of economic growth, it is also easy to overstate its practical significance. Of the 64 million ha affected by the recently implemented moratorium, around 75 per cent was already protected under Indonesian law.

It remains to be seen whether the moratorium will change things in any fundamental way.


One Response to “US$40 billion to cut deforestation & create jobs”

  1. For funds and grants for wild life and forest conservation contact this NGO in Bangalore

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