Indonesia to plant 100 million trees this year

JAKARTA Wed Nov 19, 2008 5:12am EST

Haze covers trees at a tea plantation near Mount Malabar in Pengalengan, Indonesia's West Java province, April 17, 2008. REUTERS/Beawiharta

Haze covers trees at a tea plantation near Mount Malabar in Pengalengan, Indonesia's West Java province, April 17, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Beawiharta

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia, which has been losing forests at a rapid pace in recent years, plans to plant 100 million trees across the country this year in an effort to limit deforestation, a forestry official said Wednesday.

Indonesia has lost an estimated 70 percent of its original frontier forest, but it still has a total forest area of more than 225 million acres (91 million hectares), with a host of exotic plants and animals waiting to be discovered.

The richest forests are found in Borneo -- the world's third-largest island shared among Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei -- which is home to about 2,000 types of trees, more than 350 species of birds and 210 mammal species.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has said in a report that Indonesia was suffering the fastest forest loss in the world at almost 1.9 million hectares per year.

In 2007, Indonesia succeeded in planting more than 100 million trees, surpassing its planting target of 79 million, said forestry ministry spokesman Masyhud.

"The realization of planting in 2007 shows that the public is enthusiastic ... we hope it can become the culture of the community," Masyhud said.

Indonesia plans to start planting on Nov 28 and continue through December to coincide with the rainy season or planting season, Masyhud said.

Southeast Asia's biggest economy is also among the world's top three greenhouse gas emitters because of deforestation, peatland degradation, forest fires, according to a report sponsored by the World Bank and Britain's development arm.

(Reporting by Telly Nathalia; Editing by Sugita Katyal and Sanjeev Miglani)

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