RECENT developments in curbing high levels of forest loss around the world are promising. They are significant because deforestation, including the clearing of trees from peat swamps in South-east Asia, is the biggest source of global warming emissions from human activity, after fossil fuel burning.
Indonesia has the eighth largest forest area on the planet and half the global total of tropical peatland. It is the world’s leading emitter of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from deforestation.
So Indonesia’s announcement last month that, starting next January, it will place a two-year moratorium on new permits to clear forests and peatlands is a potentially important advance in a programme to help developing countries protect forests. In fact, advocates of the United Nations-backed forest preservation scheme, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (Redd), argue that it is the fastest and cheapest way to cut greenhouse emissions.