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  Yahoo News 5 Oct 07
Indonesia aims to plant 79 million trees
By Zakki Hakim, Associated Press Writer

Indonesia, which is losing its forests faster than any other country, hopes to plant 79 million trees in a single day ahead of a major U.N. climate change meeting this year, a forestry ministry spokesman said Friday.

The trees, mostly eucalyptus and teak, will be planted across the world's fourth-largest nation on Nov. 28, said the spokesman Masyhud, who uses one name.

"We aim to get Indonesia greener as soon as we can and reduce forest degradation as much as possible," he said.

A Greenpeace forest activist, Hapsoro, said the planting of trees was admirable, but was almost pointless in the face of Indonesia's rapid deforestation.

"Planting new trees is good, but Greenpeace stays firm in calling on the government to temporarily stop all logging to allow forest re-growth," he said.

The environmental group said in May that Indonesia was losing its forests faster than any other country, with the equivalent of about 300 soccer fields destroyed every hour. The forestry ministry did not contest the statement.

Around 4.5 million acres of forest were destroyed each year between 2000 and 2005, a rate of 2 percent annually or 20 square miles a day, the group said.

In addition to massive commercial logging for timber, Indonesian forests are also being decimated by fires and land clearing for palm oil plantations.

Masyhud said that since 2003 the government has launched several conservation initiatives, including signing agreements with Japan and the European Union banning the import of illegally logged products.

The government planted 2.5 million acres in 2006 and aims to double that amount this year, he said.

Indonesia will host a major U.N. climate change meeting in December on the resort island of Bali. Environment ministers from 80 countries will meet there to begin talks on what actions the world must take after the first commitment period of the Kyoto protocol expires in 2012.

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