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Palm oil is big business around the world — for cooking oil, detergent and fuel. And there are still more trucks, laden with logs, to make paper. Soon our car stops so Arman, the driver, can have a smoke. A truck carrying trees to be turned into paper. In a distant stand of forest we hear gibbons.

As he smokes, Arman says used to hunt them, but not anymore. I shot it four times and it fell out of the tree and leaned against it crying. It was holding a baby. It cried like a human, there were tears and it sniffed. She handed her baby to me, then sank down and died. That's when I stopped shooting animals that act like humans. As the trees are cut the animals are being pushed further out. It's well documented by the environmental group WWF.

But Jonotoro, who's worked here in Riau for the Forestry Ministry for 13 years, put it best:. But after , after the end of the Suharto era, it was a free for all; people just cut the forest as they pleased. There was no law enforcement. That is mostly in the national parks, and even the forest there is degraded. The voracious hunger for copier paper and for paper packaging, most recently in Asia, is bringing money, and foreigners to giant new paper mills in once quiet outposts. And David Kerr, a boat building hobbyist who once worked in paper in eastern Canada, now directs operations here at this mill, really a small town in itself.

Acacia trees grown for paper are ground into chips.

Different kinds of forests

LOBET: Seven chipping lines swallow acacia trunks whole, and in seconds spit out thumb-sized chips of wood. This is the press section and the forming area. Making paper. LOBET: Inside, the wet paper is squeezed between giant rollers, then dried, starched, and at nearly a mile a minute, crisp white paper spins onto enormous spools that each weigh more than twenty pickup trucks.

KERR: A good day one or two breaks per day — a bad day, sometimes as much as ten. KERR: seven, The only time we stop is for maintenance and that's usually measured in hours up to But this hunger for paper and palm oil, and the forest felling that goes with it, is overwhelming even Indonesia's vast forests. So as the country pursues development, and the plantations expand, they are spreading over a very special landscape — tropical peat land. When peat forest is drained and cleared, the undecomposed plant matter in its soil is revealed.

LOBET: And the ground is a mix of acacia branches, bark, and tree material that is part of this dark brown and black peat soil. This open field was once a tropical peat land forest, a landscape unfamiliar to most Americans. Intact, it was soupy or spongy, hard to walk through.

Peat forms when the water table is at ground level — or even higher. Submerged, without air, plant material doesn't decompose; it just gets compacted — into a treasure trove of stored carbon. Left alone for millions of years, it would turn into coal. But if you drain away the water by cutting canals or ditches, tropical peat lands dry out and their vast carbon stores escape into the atmosphere. LOBET: In this field, a crop of pulpwood trees has just been harvested, and a new one is being planted.

Forest Habitat | Habitats | WWF

My title at the moment is plantation best practices manager. Indonesia has vast peatlands.


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This island alone, Sumatra, stores more carbon in peat than is emitted globally by human activities in a year. Now much of the peat, like what we're walking on, is drained and emitting carbon at a furious rate. Many environmentalists blame plantations like this one. But, Bathgate says his company is not to blame. This river has been used probably for centuries or longer by local people, for fishing and hunting and gathering, and more recently for taking out timber for sale.

'Precious Africa'

So this land here has had quite a history of degradation and what we would call abuse — or at least not professional, high-tech development. Villagers, he says, had already hacked canals into the swamp, both to float out trees they cut, and to plant crops. But it was like this over here. It was already — had quite a lot of illegal logging, small drains through here. Just weeks after clearing a crop of acacia trees for paper, workers plant new seedlings.

LOBET: Today contract workers wielding heavy tampers pound the ground into flat spaces for new seedlings. I lean down close to capture the sound as the tool hits the ground, but there is virtually none; the peat absorbs it. That's because acacia grows fast — an inch a day. It sounds incredible, but in this climate, John Bathgate says these trees can be harvested for paper in just five years.

So moisture for growth is available all year round. LOBET: On a big bare spot in this sea of paper trees, the giant claw of a Hitachi excavator grabs skinny logs out of a metal boat.


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LOBET: The cut logs floated in from the far reaches of the plantation on a canal, one of hundreds the industry carves into the peat. These canals cause carbon release, but in what's becoming a high stakes game of competing carbon claims, Bathgate says APRIL's acacia plantations actually reduce carbon emissions overall.

What we're saying for the peat lands: we turn it from a large emitter to a less large emitter. There will still be some net emissions. On peatland, on average, we are reducing the emissions by something in the order of 50 percent. Forester John Bathgate with acacia logs barged by canal from elsewhere on the plantation.

Precious time is being wasted in formulating a forest convention

Next they'll be trucked to the mill. LOBET: The company claims it cuts emissions by preventing fire and by setting aside 35 percent of its concessions, where forest is allowed to grow back with the water level high. In Bathgate's view, the paper business is less harmful than the death by a thousand cuts of poor people, felling and burning the forest to plant their rice and rubber trees.

MAKE ME FAMOUS - Make It Precious

BATHGATE: I'm absolutely percent convinced that leaving it to continue to degrade and leaving it for other parties to continue to degrade — it could get worse. Forests are the dominant terrestrial ecosystem of Earth.

Press Releases

They are distributed across the globe. Human society and forests influence each other in both positive and negative ways. Forests provide ecosystem services to humans. Forests can also impose costs, affect people's health, and interfere with tourist enjoyment. This publication presents reviews and research results on negative and positive human interference on forests, as well as ecology, management, governance, policy and economic issues.

The book consists of four sections with 12 chapters derived from around the world. Dynamics of an Urban Forest in Response to Urban.