JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia had the fastest pace of deforestation in the world between 2000-2005, with an area of forest equivalent to 300 soccer pitches destroyed every hour, Greenpeace said on Thursday.
"The next generation of Indonesians will not see any forest if no action is taken by the government to deal with the problem," Greenpeace Indonesia forest campaigner Bustar Maitar told a news conference.
The Guinness World Records had approved a proposal by Greenpeace that Indonesia's forest destruction be included in its 2008 record book to be published in September this year, said Greenpeace Southeast Asia campaigner Hapsoro.
Displaying a replica of the certificate from the global authority of records, he said the citation from the publication would read: "Of the 44 countries which collectively account for 90 percent of the world's forests, the country which pursues the highest annual rate of deforestation is Indonesia with 1.8 million hectares (4.4 million acres) of forest destroyed each year between 2000-2005."
Indonesia has lost 72 percent of its intact ancient forests and half of what remains is threatened by commercial logging, forest fires and clearances for palm oil plantations, Greenpeace said.
The group urged the Indonesian government to impose a temporary ban on commercial logging in natural forests nationwide, accusing authorities of failing to control lawlessness and corruption in the forestry sector.
International demand for timber and paper as well as commodities such as palm oil was driving the destruction of the country's forest, currently covering 120.3 million hectares (297.3 million acres), it said.
Indonesia is the second second-largest palm oil producer after Malaysia and is poised to be the world's biggest producer of the commodity with more than 16 million metric tons this year.
Greenpeace said while Indonesia was destroying its forests at a faster pace than any other country, Brazil destroyed a larger area of forest every year.
The group said Indonesia's rate of forest destruction also made the country the third-largest greenhouse polluter after the United States and China.
Experts say up to 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions comes from tropical forest clearance.
Indonesia wants rich countries to pay developing nations to preserve their forests and plans to push this proposal at a U.N. conference in Bali on climate change in December.