BARCELONA, Spain: All 10 provincial governors of the island of Sumatra agreed to a deal to protect endangered forests, a move that could help control planet-warming emissions, Indonesian authorities said Thursday at a global conservation conference here.
When trees in Sumatra are cut down or burn, the soils underneath are exposed, releasing carbon dioxide as peat oxidizes and decomposes. The peat is so deep and plentiful in parts of Sumatra that the prevention of forest clearing could make a significant contribution to lowering greenhouse-gas emissions, according to environmentalists.
Hermien Roosita, Indonesia's deputy minister for the environment, said the next steps would involve coming up with an islandwide conservation plan. But carrying out the accord is unlikely to be straightforward.
"There are a lot of challenges in the future to ensure the successful implementation of the commitment," said Noor Hidayat, the director of conservation areas for the Forestry Ministry in Indonesia.
According to a translation of the Indonesian accord by WWF, an environmental group that helped broker the deal, the provincial governors and authorities pledged "to save and conserve the ecosystem of Sumatra Island in order to balance ecological functions and economic development for the people of Sumatra."
The accord was signed on Sept. 18 in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, but the parties involved waited until the World Conservation Congress a gathering of 8,000 representatives from governments, conservation groups and businesses that is taking place in Barcelona to unveil it.