Biofuel project in Indonesia faces flak

Published: Wednesday 28 February 2007

-- (Credit: FRIENDS OF THE EARTH)A proposed biofuel project in two remote provinces of Indonesia is drawing much controversy, as environmentalists contend that the project would destroy some of the world's most biodiverse and threatened ecosystems.

The us $5.5 billion--touted as the country's next largest biofuel project--will be implemented by Indonesia's Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology, China National Offshore Oil Corporation and Hong Kong Energy (Holdings) Limited. Around one million hectares have been reserved for the eight-year plan, which would convert tropical forest for oil palm, cassava plantations and sugarcane. The development will occur in Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo, and Papua, on the island of New Guinea.

Conservationists worry about the impact of the vast monoculture plantations on ecology. Besides, the Papuan development will involve clearing vast swathe of virgin rainforest, while the Kalimanthan project will put additional pressure on its already depleted rainforests.

The move is part of Indonesia's president's plans to prioritise alternative energy development.

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