Page last updated at 17:43 GMT, Friday, 29 January 2010

UK pledges 50m to tackle Indonesia deforestation

Deforestation in Indonesia
The 50m will help educate Indonesians on climate change

The UK is to contribute £50m ($80m) to a project in Indonesia in the hope it will tackle climate change.

Large-scale deforestation makes the South East Asian country the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, after China and the US.

The money will be used to encourage palm oil manufacturers to grow new plantations on land already degraded instead of clearing new forest.

The Indonesian president has pledged to cut carbon emissions by 26% by 2020.

President Susilo Bambang Yudoyono has said Indonesia could cut emissions by up to 41% if the country was given international help.

The UK Department for International Development (DfID) said the funding was part of a £1.5bn ($2.4bn) commitment to a $10bn-a-year "fast start" global financial package to help developing countries address climate change and its impacts, which was agreed in Copenhagen last month.

Rainforests provide us with huge benefits, like a stable climate and regular rainfall
David Ritter
Head of biodiversity at Greenpeace

The five-year partnership aims to educate the Indonesian public on how the forests in the country are used and to help them adapt to climate change.

It will also give palm oil companies money to help them offset extra costs from growing on less fertile, degraded land.

The equivalent of three football pitches of rainforest have been cut down every minute in Indonesia, which lost a third of its forest cover in the past 20 years, DfID said.

Protecting vital resources

Indonesia is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, with millions of people living in low-lying coastal areas and a high dependency on agriculture and natural resources.

It also has one-fifth of the world's coral reefs, which are threatened by rising sea temperatures and greater acidity caused by higher levels of carbon dioxide.

International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, said: "The impacts of unchecked deforestation in Indonesia will be felt across the world for years to come.

"Through this partnership the UK will stand side by side with the Indonesians to help manage their forests, protecting this vital resource for future generations."

David Ritter, head of biodiversity at Greenpeace, said the UK contribution was a "significant sum" that must be spent in the right way.

"Rainforests provide us with huge benefits, like a stable climate and regular rainfall, so partnerships like this make sense for Britain as well as countries like Indonesia," he said.

"We now need assurances that this is new money, and that the partnership also means diplomatic pressure to make sure that the Indonesian government puts an immediate ban on logging in carbon-rich peatlands."

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