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From deforestation to reforestation

Photo credit: GRIST

Gunung Lumut, East Kalimantan, Indonesia    Jan van der Ploeg / Center for International Forestry Research

From cutting down rainforests to restoring them: A company changes course

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A company that once served as the face of Southeast Asian deforestation is now restoring forests. Today, Asia Pulp & Paper, a firm that environmental groups have condemned in the past for cutting down rainforests, announced that it would retire 7,000 hectares of commercial acacia plantations on particularly vulnerable land.

I’ve been following the shift in business practices among palm-oil companies and other agricultural enterprises that have brought wealth to Southeast Asia by clearing forests. Those companies have committed to stop cutting down rainforests — and now face the considerable challenge of making good on their commitments.

This announcement is significant because it represents more than words: Asia Pulp & Paper is putting its money where its mouth is. The environmental news siteMongabay called it “a notable shift away from business-as-usual.”

The 7,000 hectares the company is retiring in five areas of Indonesia (about 27 square miles in total) have special conservation value because they are near wildlife areas, and because they cover “peat domes”: soils layered deep with organic matter. When exposed, these peat domes often catch fire and convert all that stored carbon into greenhouse gas and smog.

Read the full article: GRIST

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.