SOS Sumatra: saving the swamp forest from palm oil plantations

Posted by bex — 30 October 2007 at 1:25pm - Comments

Last week, Jamie wrote about our Forest Defenders Camp in Sumatra, Indonesia: the frontline of where peatland forest is being cleared for palm oil plantations.

Well, this week our volunteers out there are busy trying to stop the destruction of an area of swamp forest. Working with local communities, they're building dams across the canals that are used in logging and draining peatland.

From our international site:

Thick layers of peat underlie most of Indonesia's swamp forest. Over time, the peat layer has locked up millions of tonnes of carbon. Once forests are cleared, peat swamps are drained and decompose to release the stored carbon as carbon dioxide. Forests are often also burned, prior to the planting of palm oil saplings, further compounding the climate problem.

Such is the scale of forest destruction across Indonesia that the huge amounts of greenhouse gases being emitted have made the country into the world's third largest climate polluter, behind the US and China.

More than 30 volunteers will work for a week with people from the nearby village to construct the dams. By halting drainage operations, the dams will prevent the peatland from drying out and releasing carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas. The dams will also prevent the palm oil company from illegally burning the currently waterlogged peatland, which would otherwise further add to global warming.

This video from the forest camp explains more about why we're there:



You can also read the full story on our international site, and keep up to date with news from Sumatra on the forest camp blog.

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