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25 Percent of Papua's forests felled

25% of Papua's forests felled; annual money for kampungs in Yahukimo has not been paid

Suara Pembaruan, 29 April 2010

The Director for Forestry Protection and Conservation at the Department of Forestry has warned that the area covered by forests in Papua and West Papua has fallen by 25 percent since the era of reformasi (the post Suharto so-called 'reform era' which started in May 1998).

This is because of the large-scale illegal logging that has occurred as well as the felling of forests to make way for roads, housing, food production, and the rapid creation of new districts and sub-districts in both provinces. The area under forests has fallen from 31.5 million hectares to 23 million hectares.

An official, Darori that illegal logging was taking place on a massive scale even though these forests were the last primary forests remaining in Indonesia, and have been changing their role in the economy. Most of the timber cut is being exported to China.

A special team set up to combat illegal logging by the president is to be sent to Papua and other regions to conduct a study of this problem. The team includes personnel from the forestry department, the attorney-general's office, the police and the Commission to Combat Corruption.

Members of the team recently had a meeting with the Minister of Forestry, Zulkfli Hasan , who told the team that while waiting for the team's report, he hoped to receive reports about violations against forestry protection from the governors of the provinces, in response to a letter he sent them two months ago.

Governors should prepare cases against those responsible for illegal logging in their regions.'Hundreds of cases have been reported but in most cases, those involved had been treated leniently, and very few had been punished,' he said. 'If no firm measures are taken, it will be virtually impossible to halt all this illegal logging.' Another official said that a special force will examine certificates that have been unlawfully issued and seek a solution to the problem.

The minister also said that he had been sending letters to Freeport since 2004 warning of incorrect procedures (about the use of land?) but as yet he has not issued any recommendations on the matter.

The matter was also raised with the Department by the environmental organisation, WALHI during a recent meeting with the Minister of Forestry.

ENDS

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