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18 Jan 07
EU bio-fuel demand threatens Indonesian forests: Greenpeace
JAKARTA (AFP) - Growing European Union demand for bio-fuel could threaten Indonesia's last remaining forests as the government approves new palm oil plantations, environmental group Greenpeace warned.
"Given the indiscriminate approval by the Indonesian government for palm oil plantations, the large demand from the EU could prove to be the final nail in the coffin for our remaining forests," Greenpeace Southeast Asia campaigner Hapsoro said in a statement.
Under an EU directive, bio-fuels should have a 5.75 percent market share by 2010. He said the EU should put in place stringent measures on bio-fuel supplies.
Earlier this month, Indonesia signed dozens of agreements on bio-fuel production worth a total of 12.4 billion dollars. Local governments in Kalimantan, on Borneo island, and West Papua have provided about one million hectares (2.4 million acres) of land to support the project.
"So far, there is no confirmation from the government and companies that these projects will not further destroy Indonesian forests," Greenpeace said. Kalimantan and Papua have some of the last areas of Indonesian rainforest and are home to a rich variety of plant and animal life, with new discoveries being made on an almost monthly basis.
While Greenpeace supported the use of bio-fuels to curb greenhouse gases, "trying to solve one environmental problem by wiping out Indonesian forests is not only senseless but could further put the lives of Indonesians in danger," Hapsoro said.
"The government must realize that massive forest degradation in Indonesia is responsible for major disasters that killed a lot of Indonesians," he said.
Several devastating floods and landslides have been blamed on deforestation, most recently in the north of Sumatra island, where more than 400,000 people were forced to flee flash floods last month.
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