by Basten Gokkon for Mongabay
A timber plantation company is illegally clearing one of Indonesia’s last coastal peat swamp forests, a carbon reservoir and biodiversity hotspot home to hundreds of endangered orangutans, say observers who are imploring President Joko Widodo’s administration to intervene.
The company, PT Mohairson Pawan Khatulistiwa (MPK), did not respond to numerous requests for comment. But locals report the firm is digging a drainage canal through the peat soil in alleged violation of a moratorium on peatland development enshrined by Jokowi, as he is known, into law last December.
Draining peat soil — a deposit of decaying organic matter that can extend deep below the ground’s surface — is a prerequisite to planting it with the fast-growing pulpwood species that feed Indonesia’s paper mills, a huge industry in the archipelago country. But the practice dries the soil out, rendering the peat highly flammable. Its widespread usage is the main underlying cause of Indonesia’s annual fires which often reach crisis proportions. In 2015, they sickened half a million people and pumped more carbon into the atmosphere than the entire EU during the same period.
This excerpt from a news article appeared in and is courtesy of Mongabay.com and can be read in its entirety here.