Indonesia: Over 40% of Riau's Forests Have Been Cut Down -- NGO

Ratri M. Siniwi Jakarta Globe 22 Jul 16;

Jakarta. The Indonesian arm of the World Research Institute's Global Forest Watch has revealed that over 40 percent of Riau's forests have been cut down for concessions since 2001, ranking it as the province with the highest level of deforestation in the country.

"You can see from the map that over the years, tree cover loss in Riau has accumulatively grown since 2001," WRI Indonesia member Hidayah Hamzan said in Jakarta on Thursday (21/07). He added that 75 percent of the province was once covered by forests.

However, on the bright side, GFW's maps – which are freely available for public access – also showed that tree cover has increased in Riau in recent years, making WRI Indonesia hopeful for the future of the province's forests.

"There are a number of replanting, restoring and regenerating activities in the area. Although some tree cover loss is near protected areas [such as the Tesso Nilo National Park], we must ensure and warn forest rangers about possible deforestation in those areas," Hidayah said.

Global Forest Watch recently launched a map to identify and predict forest fires around the world, including Indonesia, to help companies see improvements or law-breaking issues happening in their concessions.

They have also added the new Global Land Analysis and Discovery (GLAD) alert system for Kalimantan's forests to act as a warning system and to spot potential fires almost in real time by using satellite data.

Users are able to see recent tree cover loss data, as the map is updated weekly. They can also subscribe to alerts on the website. GLAD alerts have been installed for Kalimantan, with the WRI hoping to expand the system throughout the archipelago.

Another recently added feature Global Forest Watch has on their maps is the commodities palm risk tool, which indicates and analyses each mill's risk of unsustainability and legality, helpful for businesses to learn about more sustainable methods.

Together with global consumer goods company Unilever, it is part of an initiative that would help businesses to move towards sustainable supply chain commodity practices by using deforestation-free palm oil.

"We're working together with our global partner Unilever, who is committed to be deforestation-free by 2019, and they help us by giving us input of what data companies need to move towards a sustainable development," WRI Indonesia deputy director Andika Putraditama said. "Palm oil is the most problematic commodity, and we want to change that."

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