Indonesia to open peatlands for crops

Alarming green groups, the Indonesian government is lifting a moratorium on crop plantations in peatland forests, Reuters reported. "In principle, we will allow the use of peatlands for plantations under a stricter criteria and a very limited scale," said Achmad Mangga Barani, an agriculture ministry official with responsibility for plantations.


The lifting of the moratorium follows a government study, the official said, and will improve the welfare of local people. Permits for oil-palm and other crop plantations in the peatlands had been frozen since December 2007.


Environmental organisations had urged the government to maintain the freeze on oil-palm plantations in peatlands to help fight climate change. Indonesia’s peatland forests are one of the earth’s largest stores of carbon, holding around 37.8 billion tonnes, according to Greenpeace. As much as 84% of the country’s carbon emissions come from deforestation, forest fires and peatland degradation, according to a report sponsored by the World Bank and Britain’s Department for International Development.


Indonesia, the world’s biggest producer of crude palm oil, expects palm-oil output to rise by about 5% this year – to 19.7 million tonnes from 18.7 million tonnes in 2008.


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