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Indonesia approves landmark forest protection project the size of Singapore

Published on Dec 5, 2012 5:03 PM
This file picture shows an aerial photograph of an excavator clearing forest to dig canal channels in a huge palm oil concession area in Ketapang district on July 5, 2010 in West Kalimantan. -- PHOTO: AFP

(REUTERS) - Indonesia on Wednesday approved a rainforest conservation project that sets aside an area roughly the size of Singapore and rewards investors with tradable carbon credits in the first of its kind to win formal backing in the country.

Four years in the making, the Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve will protect nearly 80,000 hectares, much of it carbon-rich peat swamp forest at risk of being felled for palm oil plantations.

Russian energy giant Gazprom and German insurance firm Allianz are backers of the project, the world's first on deep peat.

A senior Indonesian official announced the approval on the sidelines of UN climate talks in Doha, Qatar. Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan signed a letter last week saying the project had passed all the key steps. Reuters has seen a copy.

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