Kalimantan forests turning into plantations

The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) Management Agency says about 80 per cent of forests in Central Kalimantan have been converted for mining and industrial plantation use.

"Forests in Central Kalimantan are disappearing at an alarming rate. Many of the forests have been converted for oil palm plantations and mining areas," the agency's joint secretariat officer, Teguh Priyatmono, said Wednesday in Sampit, Central Kalimantan, as quoted by Antara news agency.

He said Central Kalimantan had been struck by a number of major disasters caused by excessive forest conversion, including flood and drought. During the dry season, he said, many springs dried out. During the rainy season, he added, the loss of trees that used to absorb rainfall triggered floods.

Teguh said restoring forests in Central Kalimantan to their original condition would require greater awareness and commitment from all stakeholders.

"Central Kalimantan is a pioneer province in reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. This aims to push efforts and programs related to the government's plan of action to prevent land and forest fires," he said.

One of the programs initiated by the Central Kalimantan administration and the REDD+ Management Agency is a community-based forest and peatland fire control programme.

"A training programme for forest and land fire control teams was started in 2012. We provide the training to increase the capacity of local governments and communities to deliver effective land and forest fire control measures," said Teguh.