(CNN) -- Indonesia's president on Wednesday announced a two-year moratorium on new concessions to convert virgin forests and peat lands into plantations, part of an internationally backed strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation.
The announcement by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono came on the eve of an international conference in Oslo, Norway, on climate change and deforestation.
Indonesia is one of the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases because of rampant clearing and burning of its forests and peat lands for logging and conversion into palm oil plantations. The country has long been a target of harsh criticisms from environmental groups who have accused the government of failing to enforce its own laws.
Yudhoyono said Indonesia would "conduct a moratorium for two years where we stop the conversion of peat land and of forest."
He was joined by Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who said Norway would provide $1 billion to Indonesia to help with the effort to reduce deforestation.
"Indonesia is a key country in terms of reducing deforestation. Therefore this agreement and Indonesia's commitment is a great step forward in achieving large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions," Stoltenberg said.
Yudhoyono said the halt on new concessions would start in 2010 as part of a broader strategy to reduce the nation's greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26 percent by 2020.
Deforestation accounts for almost a fifth of total greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. The Indonesia-Norway partnership to cut emissions is part of a broader international strategy called Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, or REDD, that would make stored carbon dioxide in tropical forests a commodity that can be bought and sold on the global market.