Sumatra's forests at risk
Wednesday 27 February 2008
Turning the forests and peat swamps of just one Sumatran province into pulpwood and palm oil plantations is generating more annual greenhouse gas emissions than the Netherlands and is rapidly driving the province's elephants into extinction, a new study by WWF and partners has found."We found that Sumatra's elephants and tigers are disappearing even faster than their forests are in Riau," said WWF International's Species Programme Director, Dr Susan Lieberman.
"This is happening because as wildlife search for new habitat and food sources, they increasingly come into conflict with people and are killed," she explained.
Key study analyses impact
The study found that in central Sumatra's Riau Province 4.2 million hectares of tropical forests and peat swamp have been cleared in the last 25 years.
Forest loss, degradation and, decomposition and fires are, on average, equivalent to 122% percent of the Netherlands total annual emissions, 58% of Australia's annual emissions, 39% of annual UK emissions and 26% of annual German emissions.
Riau was chosen for the study because it is home to vast peatlands estimated to hold Southeast Asia's largest store of carbon, and contains some of the most critical habitat for Sumatran elephants and tigers. It also has Indonesia's highest deforestation rate, substantially driven by the operations of global paper giants Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited (APRIL).