Indonesia optimistic to surpass one billion tree target

Indonesia optimistic to surpass one billion tree target
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Jakarta (ANTARA News) - All regions in Indonesia simultaneously planted thousands of trees to mark Indonesian Tree Planting Day and National Planting Month led by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at Merah Putih Hill, Sentul, Citeureup, Bogor, West Java Province, on Monday (Nov 28). The presidential tree planting ceremony was the signal for the simultaneous execution of the same activity by at least 8,820 people including servicemen and police officers, boy and girl scouts, and students. Indonesia has set a target of planting one billion trees under a program called "One Billion Indonesian Trees for The World" (OBIT ) being implemented to help reduce greenhouse gases. The OBIT program is Indonesia`s concrete contribution to the world to deal with the impacts of climate change and global warming. Globally, more than 12 billion trees have now been planted in 193 countries under the Billion Tree Campaign, according to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Inspired by the work of the late Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai, UNEP had initiated a world-wide Billion Tree Campaign aimed to improve the quality of life in communities across the world through the multiple benefits provided by trees. These include tackling climate change through the sequestration of carbon, contributing to local economies through products such as timber and providing valuable ecosystem services such as soil regulation, erosion control and cultural values. Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan is optimistic that Indonesia will be able to surpass the target on January 31, 2012, as during 2011 a total of 827 million trees were planted. "Until now, we have accomplished 80 percent of the tree planting program. I am optimistic the target will be achieved in late December and it will even be exceeded in 2012," the minister said in his remarks at the nation-wide tree planting ceremony at Merah Putih Hill, Sentul. On the occasion, Yudhoyono planted a Manglid (Manglietia glauca) tree, First Lady Ani Yudhoyono a (Gnetum gnemon) tree, Vice President Boediono a Suren (Toona sureni) tree, and his spouse, Herawati Boediono, a Salam (Syzygium polyanthum) tree. After the tree planting, the president presented awards to provincial governors and districts head who had won a one billion tree planting contest in 2010, and a greening and "Wana Lestari" nature conservation competition in 2011. The country managed to plant 104 million trees of the 100 million target in 2008, and 250 million trees of the 230 million target in 2009. Last year, the total tree planting realization jumped to 1.7 billion trees from the target of one billion since the program was launched in 2007. The Forestry Ministry has allocated funds amounting to Rp3 trillion to support the program of planting more than 1.7 billion trees across the country this year. At present the country has a stock of 1.7 billion seeds of which 600 million are kept by the forestry ministry, 500 million by state forestry companies and 600 million by timber estate companies. The planting of one billion trees was started on February 1, 2011 and would be completed on January 31, 2012, according to Minister Zulkifli. A number of private forestry companies have also supported the program. President Commissioner of PT. Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP) Tony Wenas, for instance, said his company fully supported the Indonesian Tree Planting Day (HMPI) and the National Tree Planting Month 2011. Tony said his company had three satellite nurseries in Kerinci, Pelalawan, and Baserah, in Sumatra, with a production capacity of 200 million seedlings annually. RAPP was planting around 160 million trees annually, he said. Earlier, the forestry minister said activities under the national tree planting movement had been carried out in 23 provinces this year to help deal with forest degradation in the country. The tree planting movement would be intensified in every district by 2013, the minister said recently. "Thank God, public awareness about the need to plant trees has grown. A number of regions have tree planting programs. Hopefully, the movement will reach the district level by 2013," the minister said when visiting a One Million Seedling Garden belonging to Budiasi Foundation at Sentul, Bogor. The tree planting movement is carried out with the support of the Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) especially in conservation forest areas, in order to prevent illegal logging activities. The involvement of servicemen in the tree planting program was crucial to help protect the trees from irresponsible people who came to uproot trees, the forestry ministry`s Natural Conservation and Forest Protection Director General Darori said in Jakarta Monday. He explained that if there were 350 trees having an average diameter of 36 centimeters on a one-hectare area, the area will have a carbon sink capacity of up to 147.84 tons per hectare. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono when observing Indonesia`s Tree Planting Day and National Tree Planting Month in West Java, on Dec. 8, 2009, asked the nation to plant 4 billion trees by 2020 and 9.2 billion trees by 2050. "If we can achieve half of the target, the trees can absorb 46 billion carbon by 2050. The figure is indeed pessimistic, but if we could plant more trees, much more CO2 could be captured, and this will become our contribution to the world," the president said. At the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, in September 2009, Yudhoyono pledged to cut emissions by 26 percent by 2020 using the state budget and by 41 percent if developed nations gave the financial support to do so. Earlier this year, the head of state signed a Presidential Instruction on a deforestation moratorium to help curb the impact of climate change and preserve the remaining tropical forests and biodiversity in it. (F001/A014)

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