The Straits Times Wednesday June 27 2007

GRAPHICS ADAPTED FROM REUTERS Deforestation causing climate change

 HOME to one of the world's largest species of plants and animals, Indonesia's forests function as a major lung for the planet.
Trees store carbon by absorbing carbon dioxide via photosynthesis and holding it in their branches and roots. But when they are bumed, or cut down and left to decay, their stored carbon is released into the atmosphere.
It has been estimated that tropical deforestation contributes 20 per cent of global carbon emissions.
Hence, halting the rate of forest destruction is one of the cheapest ways to fight climate change.
Worldwide, the rate of deforestation has increased rapidly with two million ha - about half the size of the Netherlands - of forest being destroyed every year, according to World Bank figures.
In the five-year period between 2000 and 2005,total forest loss in Kalimantan alone reached 4.3 million ha.
Almost a fourth of Indonesia's forest area lies in Kalimantan.
Forests designated for wildlife protection or environmental functions total only 11 million ha.
The remaining 29.9 million ha has either-been assigned for timber concession or for conversion into plantations. In addition, much of Indonesia's forests are located on peat swamps, which trap massive carbon stocks.
But forest clearing or draining the swamps for agriculture dries out the wetland and accelerates the release of carbon into the atmosphere.


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