Keeping our climate a little cooler

Major Carbon Pool

Often growing on peat domes 10 – 20 metres deep, Indonesia’s rainforests are incredible storehouses of carbon. It is estimated that Indonesia’s peatlands and rainforests store at least 70 billion tons of carbon

Rapid Deforestation and Degradation

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Indonesia is deforesting at an alarming rate – 40% of its forest has disappeared in the last 50 years. 85% of Indonesia’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions stem from deforestation (37%), peatland disturbances (27%) and other land use activities (21%) (National Council on Climate Change, 2010). Logging and forest clearance has made this largely rural country the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, second only to China and the US.

Why is Indonesian deforestation having an especially negative impact on our climate?

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Indonesia’s rainforests are unique in their carbon-storage capacity. In addition to the trees, the peat in which they grow is a carbon sponge. When drained to support fast-growing palms and other plantation trees, the peat decays quickly, releasing its stored carbon into the atmosphere.

The Forest Stewardship Council considers forests growing in peat deeper than 25 centimetres to be of High Conservation Value. In Indonesia, rainforests frequently grow in peat more than 10 metres deep. That’s some deep peat! Some of the deepest anywhere, in fact.

The UK government-commissioned Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change found that “curbing deforestation is a highly cost-effective way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” When you factor in its peat, that’s especially true for Indonesia’s forests.