Indonesia: President Urges Community to Get Involved in Forest Conservation

Donny Andhika Mononimbar Jakarta Globe 27 Nov 15;

Jakarta. President Joko Widodo has called for greater community efforts to reforest Indonesia, following slash-and-burn clearing this year that razed some two million hectares of forests.

Speaking at an event to mark National Tree-Planting Day in Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan, Joko stressed the importance of forest ecosystems.

“Indonesia can reclaim its crown as a source of biodiversity and the lungs of the world,” he said in a statement.

Joko and his wife, Iriana, used the event to kick off a campaign by the local government to plant 10,000 trees, with the help of hundreds of primary school students.

The reforestation program, in the Sultan Adam forest area outside Banjarmasin, will be first in a series of similar programs to redress the devastation caused by the fires through much of the middle of this year. The Sultan Adam area itself lost 105 hectares of woodland to the fire.

Joko also used the occasion to witness the signing of an agreement between the Environment and Forestry Ministry and leaders of nine interfaith organizations to commit to boost community awareness of and participation in environmental conservation efforts.

Indonesia last year overtook Brazil in the volume of deforestation, while the forest fires this year, much of them in carbon-rich peatlands, resulted in more greenhouse gas emissions than the entirety of US economic activity on several days, according to the World Resources Institute.

The fires also caused haze that sickened hundreds of thousands in Indonesia and spread to Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.

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