Forests Update

Down to Earth No 57 May 2003

  • The minister of forestry, Mohammad Prakosa, has revoked the licenses of two plywood manufacturers - PT Wana Rimba Kencana in East Kalimantan and PT Benua Indah in West Kalimantan - following inspection by the Revitalisation of Forestry Sector Industries Task Force - a new ministry watchdog. The forestry minister also refused to extend the logging licences of 13 companies, but would not release their names. (Jakarta Post 25/Feb/03; Bisnis Indonesia 24/Apr/03)
  • Smoke from forest and bush fires affected provincial capitals Pontianak (West Kalimantan) and Pekanbaru (Riau) in early March. Officials in both provinces blamed the 'haze' on small-scale farmers setting fires to clear land for cultivation. Visibility was sharply reduced, urban residents wore face masks and complaints about respiratory and eye problems increased. (Jakarta Post 6&7/Mar/03)
  • Revised figures for the area affected by the 1997/98 forest fires in Indonesia and the economic costs are presented in a report entitled Fires in Indonesia - Causes, Costs and Policy (Luca Tacconi, CIFOR, Feb 2003). The fires are now believed to have caused forest degradation and deforestation to 11.7 million hectares with economic costs in the range of US$1.62-2.7 billion. (See
  • A Malaysian-owned company has agreed to pay the Indonesian government US$1.1 million as compensation for illegal burning its plantation in Riau in 1999-2000. Goby, the director of PT Adei Plantation was previously given a 2 year jail sentence. (AFP 1/May/03)
  • The families of at least 26 victims of landslides in Pacet (East Java) are suing state forestry company Perhutani and the local authorities for Rp781 bn (approx US$80 million). Lawyers for the families told Surabaya district court that Perhutani had violated the law by converting a nearby protected forest into a production area. In Bandung, West Java, families of victims of the January 2003 Garut landslide disaster also filed a lawsuit for over Rp50 bn (approx US$5 million) against Perhutani and the government. The Indonesian Meteorology Agency predicts high rainfall and flooding in West Java through to late May. (Jakarta Post 6/Mar/03, 2/May/03)
  • President Megawati officially opened a national reforestation programme by planting a sandalwood tree in a ceremony in Soe, West Timor. "I expect this reforestation programme to be a community-based movement and not a government one, so that this can be followed by people all over Indonesia," Megawati said. The government has committed Rp15 trillion to the five-year programme. (Jakarta Post 17/Mar/03)
  • A delegation comprising provincial councillors and forestry officials from West Papua refused to revoke logging licenses in a meeting with forestry department officials in Jakarta. Provincial officials had angered the forestry minister by issuing logging licenses to 44 firms last year for an area totalling 11.8 million hectares. The logging companies are expected to log twice the annual logging quota of 1.5 million cubic meters, set by the ministry for the province. (Jakarta Post 25/Mar/03)
  • The Indonesian government has established a new joint team to tackle the controversial issue of open pit mining in protected forest areas. The team, headed by the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, has three months to come up with a solution. The mining & energy minister is pressing for 22 mining companies to be allowed to explore and exploit concessions already granted. Forestry minister Prakosa is resisting this proposal as it contravenes the 1999 Forestry Act. (Jakarta Post28/Mar/03)
  • Swedish companies play a significant role in destroying Indonesia's forests, despite priding themselves on high standards of social and environmental responsibility. The Swedish Society of Nature Conservation (SSNC) and WWF accuse Swedish companies of supplying equipment or financing for pulp factories which use natural forests as their source of raw materials. Swedish consultants provide technical advice for Indonesian companies on replacing rainforest with plantations of alien species. Swedish paper companies import this pulp and market it in Europe. The Swedish Export Credits Guarantee Board backs these deals. The full report will be available in English in June. A summary in Swedish is available at

Forest figures

National log production 2002 (official limit) 12 million cu m
National log production 2003 (official limit) 6.8million cu m
Logging permitted by Papuan authorities 2003 3 million cu m
Illegal logging 2002-2003 (estimated) 51 million cu m
Annual economic losses from illegal logging (estimated) US$3.4 bn
National forest estate (official) 120 million ha
Forest estate affected by deforestation 70 million ha
Area covered by large-scale tree plantations 8.55 million ha
Reforestation planned for 2003 600,000 ha

(Sources: Jakarta Post 28/Feb/03, 17, 20, 25 & 26/Mar/03)