$4bn fund to protect Indonesia's forests while president announces partial halt to deforestation

Posted by jamie — 27 May 2010 at 3:48pm - Comments

Building dams at a Greenpeace camp in Sumatra. International funds and a moratorium would make this a thing of the past

While our campaign to stop HSBC investing in deforestation continues, events have been quickening at the political end. Money and a moratorium have been promised for Indonesia today, both of which are desperately needed to help safeguard the country's forests from further devastation.

The money comes in the shape of $4bn from a group of governments - the UK, US, Norway, Germany, Australia, Japan and France - to be used globally to stop more trees being cut down. It's the first major sign of international support for a REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation) deal since the washout that was Copenhagen, where funds are provided by rich countries in terms of poorer ones for protecting their forests.

A donation of $4bn certainly isn't peanuts, but its true value will only be known when details of how it will be spent are known. Without proper safeguards in place, the cash could easily go to subsidising companies such as Sinar Mas and the impact on deforestation could be negligible or even make it worse by providing a smokescreen of greenwash.

As for the moratorium, Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was in Oslo for a conference on climate and forests where the announcement of the $4bn deal was made. He made his own announcement, saying that for two years there'll be no more chunks of forest land parceled up and handed over to logging companies for exploitation.

This is good news, especially if it makes it into a presidential decree when Yudhoyono gets back to Jakarta, and the moratorium was a precondition laid down by Norway for its $1bn share of the financial deal which is specifically targeted at Indonesia. But it doesn't address the millions of hectares which are already in the clutches of logging companies, still covered in forest but waiting to be 'developed' by our old friend Sinar Mas and others. Without including existing concessions, deforestation will still continue apace.

Both these developments represent significant progress towards zero deforestation in Indonesia, and yet there are a cloud of ifs and buts hovering around them.

About Jamie

I'm a forests campaigner working mainly on Indonesia. My personal mumblings can be found @shrinkydinky.

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