Indonesia’s forests threatened by logging and palm oil
JAKARTA: It’s one of the few countries that still has vast swathes of tropical rainforests left. But conservationists say maybe not for long.
Indonesia’s rainforests — especially those on Borneo island — are being stripped so rapidly because of illegal logging and palm oil plantations for bio-fuels, they could be wiped out altogether within the next 15 years, some environmentalists say.
“Sixty percent of the protected and conservation areas are already badly damaged due to illegal logging and palm oil plantations,” Rully Sumada, a forestry expert with Indonesian environmental group Walhi, told Reuters.
“The deforestation speed is 2.8 million hectares a year. At this rate, by 2012 the forests in Sumatra, Borneo and Sulawesi will be gone, only the forests in Papua will be left. And if cutting of trees carries on, no forest will be left by 2022.”
Indonesia has a total forest area of more than 225 million acres (91 million hectares), or about 10 percent of the world’s remaining tropical forest, according to Rainforestweb.org, a portal on rainforests.
But the tropical Southeast Asian country — whose forests are a treasure trove of plant and animal species including the endangered orangutans — has already lost an estimated 72 percent of its original frontier forest.
The biggest threat to the forests of Borneo, and also Aceh on the northernmost tip of Sumatra island, is from illegal logging.
A recent report by the Environmental Investigation Agency and Indonesia-based Telapak said that Malaysia and China were major recipients of stolen Indonesian timber and that shipping companies from Singapore carried such wood overseas.
China industry complicit: Greenpeace’s China office said China’s timber industry was complicit in the illegal felling of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea’s merbau trees, with logs then smuggled to China and processed and exported as floorboards and high-end furnishings to the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe.
Merbau is a resilient red hardwood, one of the most valuable in Southeast Asia.
China’s Foreign Ministry brushed away accusations that the country’s demand for timber was hastening the destruction of Southeast Asian forests, saying it had a strict system of supervision and management of timber and timber product imports.”
“The effects of deforestation are crystal clear. Bio-diversity will be destroyed,” Masnellyarti Hilman, a deputy minister in Indonesia’s environment ministry, told Reuters. reuters