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Indonesia is clearing vast peatlands to grow food. Climate costs are dire

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By illuminem briefings 🌎

· 2 min read


illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece on The Washington Post or enjoy below:

🗞️ Driving the news: Indonesia's government has been clearing extensive areas of peatland in Kalimantan to cultivate crops, releasing substantial carbon previously sequestered and exacerbating climate change
This initiative, aimed at agricultural self-sufficiency, undermines one of the planet's most effective carbon storage ecosystems

🔭 The context: Peatlands, comprising only 3% of the Earth's land but storing twice as much carbon as all forests, are vital for climate stability
Indonesia's efforts to transform these carbon-rich areas into farmland have been criticized for their environmental impact, including heightened wildfire risks and potential crop failures due to unsuitable soil conditions

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: Indonesia's actions highlight the challenges of balancing food security with environmental protection

⏭️ What's next: The future of Indonesia's peatlands remains uncertain. Despite historical failures and environmental concerns, the Indonesian government persists with its land-clearing projects
This approach raises questions about the sustainability of such practices and their long-term impact on global climate goals

💬 One quote: "To restore these vast areas of peat forest being destroyed will take years and huge investments in labor and funds" (David Taylor, professor of tropical environmental change)

📈 One stat: In 2023, fires in Central Kalimantan province exceeded the number of fire alerts of the three previous years combined, largely due to peatland clearance


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