Indonesia Embarks on Tree-Planting Campaign The Forest Ministry of Indonesia announces plans to plant 79 million trees in anticipation of a conference on global climate change in December. The move is part of a United Nations campaign to plant a billion trees around the world. Indonesia has been criticized for its failure to stem deforestation.
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Indonesia Embarks on Tree-Planting Campaign

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Indonesia Embarks on Tree-Planting Campaign

Indonesia Embarks on Tree-Planting Campaign

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A country famous for hacking down its forest is now bringing them back.

Indonesia is planting 79 million trees. It's part of the United Nations campaign to plant one billion trees around the world.

The head of Indonesia's Bureau for Planning and Finance at the Department of Forestry is Wandoyo Siswanto.

Mr. WANDOYO SISWANTO (Chief of Bureau for Planning and Finance, Department of Forestry): (Through translator) Hopefully, the developing countries who are carbon emitters can see that there are efforts by developing countries like Indonesia who want to do something, not just for Indonesian people but for the gain, the benefit, of the whole world.

INSKEEP: So it's an effort against global warming which is being reported on by Trish Anderton in Jakarta.

And why 79 million trees, why not 80?

Ms. TRISH ANDERTON (Reporter, Indonesia): As it turns out is because there are 79,000 government institutions across Indonesia, and so each one was tasked with planting a thousand trees.

INSKEEP: Which kind of trees?

Ms. ANDERTON: Where I went today, in south Jakarta, they were planting teak and mahogany and some fruit trees. They said they wanted to plant some fruit trees so that people would be able to actually get benefit from the trees.

INSKEEP: Planting them where?

Ms. ANDERTON: In this case it was the University of Indonesia. I think they're planting them probably on government land at various points all around the country.

INSKEEP: Now I have to tell you, when I first heard about this story, the first thing that came to my mind was past news stories about Indonesians slashing and burning such vast areas of forest that you had huge air pollution problems in nearby cities.

Ms. ANDERTON: That's the first thing you have to think of, especially if you've been here through one those summers when they had the massive forest fires that were causing, you know, partial blackouts in Singapore and Malaysia. But anytime a tree is planted in Indonesia, I think you have to be a little bit happy.

INSKEEP: Are there people in Indonesia raising the question about whether there's almost - well a little bit of hypocrisy here because I assumed the clear cutting is continuing and the burning is continuing even as this effort to plant some trees gets underway.

Ms. ANDERTON: It's a pretty complicated problem. And, yeah, there are environmental groups that are saying, look, you know, it's great to plant trees but what you really need to do is just completely stop logging activities for a while and let the forest recover. On the other hand, people are also happy about something good is happening. So the response has certainly not been completely critical.

INSKEEP: Indonesia ended up in a World Bank report as the world's third biggest greenhouse gas emitter due largely to the hacking down of so many trees and forest fires. Is this something that's on the mind of many Indonesians, they don't want to be high on the list like that?

Ms. ANDERTON: I'm not sure how high carbon emission is on the minds of Indonesians, but I think people are conscious of the haze problem and the fact that haze from burning Indonesian forest goes over and, you know, really impacts the health and the daily life of people in neighboring countries. I think people are aware of that and don't feel good about that.

INSKEEP: So just so I understand this, you said 79,000 government entities, every one of them goes out and plants a thousand trees. So how much time do these bureaucrats and various agencies have to go out and find a thousand saplings and get them in the ground?

Ms. ANDERTON: Well, the government is supplying the saplings. And the idea was to plant them all at the same time this morning. They said they have planted 500 trees at the university all at the same time. And it's true that if you get a whole bunch of volunteers someone can plant a tree pretty quickly. But they were going to plant 500 more later today, and then they're going to plant a whole bunch more over the weekend.

INSKEEP: So this might take a few days, but still - dramatic effort.

Ms. ANDERTON: Yeah. And in fact there's a bunch of women's organizations that are going to plant another 10 million trees over the weekend that I think are completely separate from the 79 million.

INSKEEP: Trisha Anderton is reporting in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Thanks very much.

Ms. ANDERTON: Thank you.

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