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  Business Times 10 Oct 07
Indonesia seeks US$1.8b to keep forests

(JAKARTA) Indonesia wants to be paid US$5-US$20 per hectare not to destroy its remaining forests, the environment minister said on Monday, for the first time giving an actual figure that he wants the world's rich countries to pay. Participants from 189 countries are expected to gather in Bali for global climate talks at a UN-led summit in December.

They will hear a report on Reduced Emissions from Deforestation (RED) - a new scheme that aims to make emission cuts from forest areas eligible for global carbon trading.

But apart from carbon trading, Indonesia also wants big emitters such as the United States and the European Union to pay the country to preserve its pristine rainforests.

'We will ask for a compensation of US$5-US$20 per hectare. It's not fixed; it is open to negotiation,' Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar told reporters after a cabinet meeting at the presidential palace on Monday.

With a total forest area of 91 million hectares, Indonesia could receive as much as US$1.8 billion for preserving its forests under the proposal.

Indonesia will also negotiate a fixed price for other forms of biodiversity, including coral reefs, Mr Witoelar added.

He later told Reuters that the figure matches the amount needed for preservation efforts and to create alternative employment for the local communities.

However, some critics say it is not clear how the funds would be supervised to ensure they are used properly.

Under the Kyoto Protocol's first round, which runs through 2012, about 35 rich nations are obliged to cut emissions by 5 per cent below 1990 levels by 2008-12 to fight global warming.

The Bali meeting in December will initiate talks on clinching a new deal by 2009.

Kyoto focused on reducing emissions from industry and capturing greenhouse cases, but did not include a scheme to cut emissions from forestry or to protect existing forests, which could reduce global emissions by 20 per cent.

The sprawling archipelago is also home to 60 per cent of the world's threatened tropical peatlands - dense tropical swamps that release big amounts of carbon dioxide when burnt or drained to plant crops such as palm oil. Indonesia is one of the world's top three carbon emitters when peat emissions are added in, according to a report sponsored by the World Bank and Britain's development arm.

'So far we have not received anything for what we have done,' Mr Witoelar said. 'Now that there is a price tag for preservation, the amount of money we get will increase multifold.' - Reuters

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