President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has stated that Indonesia has succeeded in reducing deforestation and the government is continuing its reforestation efforts by implementing a number of programs involving the local community.
"The most depressing event relating to deforestation in our country is when we lost 3.5 million hectares of rain forests during the transition-to-democracy period in 2000," he said in New York on Monday night.
"From that point on, Indonesia launched a number of policies to regain its forest cover," he added.
President Yudhoyono admitted that it was not easy to implement such policies, which required cooperation of the local community as well as the international community.
"One of our decisions was to make a breakthrough by implementing the REDD plus program in cooperation with the Norwegian government," he said.
However, the decision was widely criticized across Indonesia. The head of the state had to assure his countrymen that the move was part of the government's efforts to preserve the environment and it would benefit Indonesia in the long term.
"We also issued a moratorium to protect our forests, as part of our reformation efforts," the President said.
"One of the positive outcomes of the policy is that 35 percent of Indonesia`s tropical rain forests are currently protected by the government," he explained.
"Besides, we also aggressively initiated our reforestation efforts. I led the campaign and have managed to plant one billion trees every year. So far, we have planted about three billion trees," President Yudhoyono stated.
He also called on the global community to cooperate with Indonesia in its efforts to achieve sustainable economic growth.