By Caitlin Douglas
In exchange for a payment from Norway of US$1 billion, Indonesia has recently pledged to introduce a two year moratorium on deforestation. The action is being undertaken as a climate change initiative. Tropical deforestation releases significant amounts of carbon dioxide but the benefits of maintaining forests extend far beyond carbon sequestration. As John Kupfler and Scott Franklin describe in the their article in Geography Compass, forests provide many services at the local scale, such as soil stability, erosion control, protection and improvement of air quality, timber and non-timber products. Forests also have important cultural and aesthetic roles. Whilst Norway’s initiative to take action against tropical deforestation is admirable, and will have tremendous benefits both locally and globally it fails to address what is driving the deforestation in the first place. Kenneth Young notes in his article in Geography Compass that tropical deforestation is often driven by global incentives and policies; therefore, unless these issues are addressed Norway’s initiative may be futile.
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