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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs                    28  September 2011

SBY pledges to protect forests

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President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Tuesday stated his commitment to ensure sustainable development of the country’s environment and forests.

“I will continue my work and dedicate the last three years of my term as president to deliver enduring results that will sustain and enhance the environment and forests of Indonesia,” Yudhoyono said in a speech in his opening address at the Forests Indonesia Conference.

The president said the country’s people, economy, environment and way of life are tightly intertwined with its forests.

“Our success in managing our forests will determine our future and the opportunities that will be available to our children,” Yudhoyono said.

But he will need to work hard to convince the nation’s environmental groups, who have previously accused the government of making grand statements on conservation but failing to deliver results.

The conference was hosted by the Center for International Forestry Research and was attended by 900 participants from the government, the business community and civil society as well as foreign donors.

Its purpose was to discuss the future of forests in Indonesia, which has the third-largest amount of tropical forest in the world.

While many now recognize the importance of safeguarding the country’s many forests, however, they remain under “tremendous” pressure, Yudhoyono said.

“As a developing country, we are prioritizing economic growth and poverty eradication. But we will not reach those aims by sacrificing our forests,” Yudhoyono said.

Indonesia should be able to find a balance, he said.

“We must change the way we treat our forests so that they are conserved even as we drive hard to accelerate our economic growth,” he said.



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