Down to Earth No 68   February 2006

Indonesia's Anti-Debt Coalition (KAU) has accused the Indonesian government of lacking any sense of urgency in its post-tsunami reconstruction work. In a statement issued exactly one year after the disaster struck, KAU criticised the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for failing to seize opportunities to reduce Indonesia's debt.

Down to Earth No 67  November 2005

"There is no such thing as a spontaneous forest fire in Indonesia", forestry minister Kaban pronounced, as smoke from forest fires in Sumatra once again caused serious air pollution in Malaysia and Singapore from July to September.

The minister stated publicly that the fires are due to competing claims over 'unproductive' forest areas. There are some 17 million ha of forest land in Indonesia which has been over-logged or zoned for conversion, according to officials.

Down to Earth No 67  November 2005

New measures to promote fastwood plantations

Forestry minister Kaban has issued five new measures aimed at reducing illegal logging and reviving the timber industry. These support his policy announcement made in July about speeding up the establishment of fastwood plantations to supply the country's pulp and paper plants. Foreign companies will now be allowed to invest in timber plantations.

Down to Earth No 66  August 2005

Flash floods hit southeastern Aceh in late April, killing at least nineteen people and injuring dozens more. The disaster can be linked to the huge demand for reconstruction timber in post-tsunami Aceh.

The floods brought rocks, logs and water crashing down hillsides, completely destroying people's homes late on April 26th, when most villagers were asleep. The villages of Lawe Gerger, Lawe Mengkudu, and Lawe Lak-Lak in Southeast Aceh district, were worst hit.

Down to Earth No 65  May 2005

In an attempt to save forests and livelihoods, environmentalists have sought a judicial review of the government's 2004 decision to permit mining in protected areas.

The NGOs and individuals challenging the government on its pro-industry mining policy are focussing on the negative environmental, social and economic impacts.

Down to Earth No 64  March 2005

A personal view from Aceh, by a member of DTE staff, written late January

No-one had warned me that it might be much more difficult to get to Aceh from Medan than from Jakarta. So many people are trying to leave Aceh to stay with relatives elsewhere and so many Acehnese from Medan and Jakarta want to look for missing relatives, or to help surviving members of their families, that it is hard to get any kind of ticket.

Down to Earth No 64  2005

The well-known indigenous and environmental activist, Keuchik Jailani, was one of the victims of the quake-tsunami in Aceh. He did not come from a privileged background and had little formal education. He always described himself as an ordinary farmer. But Pak Keuchik - as he was always known - was not an ordinary man. He was a community leader who was chosen to be village head of Riseh Sawang and customary leader because he was an honest, hard-working, principled man who was a skilled negotiator and not afraid to speak out.