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Indonesia to hold mass tree planting day

by Staff Writers
Jakarta (AFP) Oct 4, 2007
Indonesia is aiming to plant some 79 million trees in a day-long event ahead of a global climate change conference it will host in December, an official said Thursday.

Forestry ministry spokesman Ahmad Fauzi Mas'ud said the nation's 71,000 villages, plus some 8,000 other administrative areas, had each been ordered to plant 1,000 trees on November 28.

"We want to show the world that it's not true that Indonesia is only a country that carries out forest destruction," Mas'ud told AFP.

Indonesia has been criticised for its failure to stem widespread illegal logging that according to Greenpeace saw it lose almost two million hectares of forests per year between 2000 and 2005.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is to kick off the event in a village in West Java, Mas'ud said.

The event is part of a campaign spearheaded by the UN Environment Programme to plant a billion trees around the world in 2007 in a bid to help avert climate change.

Mas'ud said the tree planting was happening in tandem with efforts to reduce illegal logging.

The number of illegal logging cases being brought against offenders has been reduced to about 600 or 700 from about 3,600 due to a presidential decree in 2005 urging officials to crack down on the practice, the spokesman said.

Chinese companies that in the past bought illegal timber from Indonesia have started to complain about a shortage of wood here as a result, he added.

Indonesia is hosting a crucial UN conference in Bali from December 3-14 that is tasked with crafting a two-year roadmap for agreeing cuts in carbon emissions from 2012, when pledges under the Kyoto Protocol expire.

Scientists have warned this year of the need for massive early curbs to avoid climate damage that by 2050,could lead to widespread hunger, flooding and homelessness.

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Australia approves major pulp mill despite environment fears
Sydney (AFP) Oct 4, 2007
The Australian government approved Thursday plans for a controversial multi-billion-dollar pulp mill in Tasmania despite objections it could ruin one of the country's most pristine environments.

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