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  The Straits Times 5 Jun 07
Indonesian Vice-President's Call to the World: Help us save our forests, or suffer consequences
By Devi Asmarani

JAKARTA - JAKARTA has told the world that if it does not want to suffer the effects of rampant Indonesian deforestation, it should pay to help solve the problem.

The call was made as a new study sponsored by the World Bank and Britain's Department for International Development shows that not only is Indonesia the world's third largest greenhouse gas emitter, but it is also under serious threat from climate change.

But Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla was quoted by Koran Tempo daily last week as saying: 'The environmental problem in the archipelago is not only Indonesia's business, but also the responsibility of the world.

'We should let the world know that if you do not want to help in the greening of Indonesia, we will just clear the forests so that you will feel it.'

And he added that United States, Japan and South Korea had contributed to his country's massive deforestation, which is driven by the world's demand for cheap wood.

Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar also said last week that Indonesia and other developing nations will demand money from rich countries to preserve their forests as part of any new deal to replace the Kyoto protocol, when an international meeting on climate change is held in Bali in December.

'Our view is that we can combat climate change by maintaining the health of our forests, and for that, we need funding,' Mr Rachmat, who will chair the Bali meeting, was quoted by Associated Press news agency as saying. 'This is a matter of justice,' he said.

Indonesia has the third largest forest cover of any tropical country, but half of it has already been degraded, with some areas in critical condition, according to figures provided by the World Bank report.

Mr Rachmat declined to say how much Indonesia would demand to protect its forests, but added : 'We have around 50 million to 60 million hectares of forests, just put a price tag on that.'

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