OSLO Aug 18 Brazil has made good progress in
safeguarding the Amazon rainforest but Indonesia's plans for its
forests could face setbacks under a new government, a report
commissioned by top forest aid donor Norway said on Monday.
Norway, rich from offshore oil and gas, paid 10.3 billion
crowns ($1.7 billion) to slow tropical deforestation from
2008-13, according to the report by the state-funded Norwegian
Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad).
"Brazil's deforestation rate and corresponding greenhouse
gas emissions have strongly decreased," the report said of
progress in protecting the Amazon, the biggest tropical forest.
Projects funded by Norwegian cash in Brazil were "paving the
way for future reductions", it said.
Norway has paid Brazil 4.6 billion crowns ($720 million) to
help back up domestic programmes, it said. Norway promised
Brazil up to $1.0 billion in 2008 to slow deforestation,
depending on its performance.
Under a similar deal in 2010, Norway pledged up to $1
billion to Indonesia, which has the third-largest rainforest
after the Amazon and Congo basins and has cleared large areas to
to make way for palm oil plantations.
Indonesia had made "good progress" in planning to protect
forests, Norad said. But it said that "upcoming governmental
change and weaknesses in the legal basis" for forest protection
"present a serious risk that achievements may be lost".
President-elect Joko Widodo takes over form Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono in October. "There could be new priorities," Ida
Hellmark, who coordinated the report at Norad, told Reuters,
pointing to risks of a further shift to palm oil plantations.
So far, Indonesia has so far got just 2 percent of Norway's
total payments, Norad said.
Forests soak up carbon dioxide as they grow and release it
when they rot or burn. Deforestation, mainly to clear land for
farms, accounts for up to about a fifth of all man-made
emissions of greenhouse gases, according to U.N. estimates.
Cash promised by Norway accounts for more than 60 percent of
all funds pledged by rich nations linking forests and climate
change, the Norad report said. Norway's money has also gone to
international agencies and nations such as Guyana and Tanzania.
Dag Hareide, head of environmental group Rainforest
Foundation Norway, said Norway's aid had helped put a focus on
forest losses and climate change at a time when many donors were
facing austerity at home.
Still, he told Reuters that Norway could do more, especially
to ensure that its $880 billion sovereign wealth fund avoided
investing in companies that stoke deforestation.
(Reporting by Alister Doyle; editing by Andrew Roche)