Palembang, South Sumatra (ANTARA News) - Peat swamp forests in Indonesia consist for 50 percent of tropical peat swamps and 10 percent of dry land, an environmental expert connected with climate change mitigation said.

Indonesia`s peat swamp forests had the potential of playing an important role in mitigating global warming and climate change, said Karl Heinz Steinmann, an expert from the REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) Pilot Project Team, said here Monday.

Scientifically, peat swamp forests in Indonesia store more carbon than natural forests, Steinmann explained at public dialogue on "Questioning REDD scheme in Indonesia," held by WALHI (Indonesian Forum for Environment).

He said, the carbon stocks are very vulnerable to disturbances such as deforestation and degradation.

According to Steinmann, the deforestation and forest degradation in the form of peat could be illegal logging, forest conversion, droughts, forest fires and excessive exploitation.

He explained, in South Sumatra, forest or Merang peat swamp forests is a promising location for a pilot project because it still has natural forest cover, store carbon stocks and its biodiversity is quite large.

In addition, the region is a connecting corridor of protected areas and conservation, such as Sembilang National Park in South Sumatra and Berbak National Park in Jambi.

The REDD pilot project site is one of the areas that has biodiversity and areas where illegal logging is rampant, Steinmann noted.

He explained, an estimation survey of the University of Muhammadiyah Palembang in 2008, estimated, in 25 years (without MRPP project-ed) most of the natural forests will be depleted due to illegal logging.

The project covers an area of ​​24 thousand hectares and is designed to tackle the main cause of deforestation in Indonesia, namely illegal logging. The project will also prevent the encroachment of forest for agriculture.

With these efforts, it is expected that the project could be beneficial to biodiversity and improve the quality and improvements to surrounding villages, Steinmann added.

He explained, the various parties related to environmental sustainability which is mainly a problem of illegal logging, continued to attempt to fix this matter, but until now it still difficult to be eliminated.

In forest areas, including in South Sumatra, illegal logging cases still occurred, he added.

The public dialogue event was also attended by Teguh Surya, an international campaigner for WALHI and participated by various elements of society including students of public and private universities in Palembang city.

Teguh Surya added, the scheme of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), to address global environmental problems, including in Indonesia have to be scrutinized together so that it will not to be deviated.

Therefore, the public dialogue was to examine critically and comprehensively, whether these REDD scheme could be the right solution and who benefited from the REDD scheme, he said.

He noted, the purpose of the dialogue was to parse the agenda for the implementation of REDD in Indonesia and develop a common view of the management and forest restoration patterns in this country.

Editor: Priyambodo RH
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