Soros, who visited the region of Central Kalimantan on Borneo recently, flagged halting the emissions from drainage of peatswamp forests as extremely important at this high level event which also included talks from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and World Bank president Zoellick. Soros also mentioned that the president of Indonesia is really committed to address the problem.
Marcel Silvius, Wetlands International: “It is very encouraging that in addition to public funding now also major private sector players are showing their concern about the issue and are doing their bit to address these huge sources of emissions. In the absence of compliance markets private sector initiatives are needed to trigger voluntary market mechanisms that can provide a fair price for emission reductions and carbon sequestration. This can create a new business sector in which local communities can play an important role as custodians of the world’s peatlands, forests and biodiversity.”
Huge dimensions of peatland degradation
During his recent trip to the peatlands of Central Kalimantan, Indonesia George Soros was guided by Wetlands International to show him the huge dimensions of the peatland degradation. There he met with local Dayak communities who expressed their interest in restoring the degraded land and to replant forests. Wetlands International has been advocating peatland restoration as one of the key priorities for climate change mitigation and has issued numerous publications to advise the negotiators of the UNFCCC.
The annual carbon dioxide emissions from peatland degradation in Indonesia amount to 500 Mtons CO2 from drainage of the carbon rich organic peat soils, and in addition an average of at least another 400 Mtons CO2 per year because of peatland fires. This makes Indonesia one of the largest carbon dioxide (CO2) emitters in the world. The recent decline of peatland forests in Southeast Asia is twice the rate of decline of other forests.
In order to prevent further conversion the development of new plantation concessions on peat should be restricted. In his speech Soros also highlighted the current moratorium on new plantation concessions on peat under the partnership between Norway and Indonesia which aims to reduce emissions from deforestation and peatland degradation.
Peatlands: carbon stores
Peatlands store more carbon than any other forest type, and their degradation results in larger emissions than from any other ecosystem. In Indonesia the loss of peatlands has been most dramatic. In the last 30 years, more than 12 million hectares have been drained and degraded for agriculture, oil palm, and pulp wood plantations, but also for illegal logging.
REDD & Peatlands
Reducing emissions from peatlands in REDD could involve the protection of remaining intact peat forests, restoring degraded and drained peatlands, preventing peat forest fires and reducing emissions from existing plantations. REDD also needs to generate sufficient financial incentives to address the economic drivers of peatland degradation and stimulate alternative sustainable development options.
Wetlands International, Susanna Tol
Tel. +31 0(6) 22624702 (present in Cancun)
Tel. +31 650501917 (Alex Kaat, Wetlands International Headquarters)
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Video: Restoring the peatland forests in Indonesia