Forests Update 2005

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. Indonesian companies which hold permits for timber plantations are encouraged to run joint operations in order to increase their effectiveness in providing employment, marketing and contributing to the local economy. (Department of Forestry Press release 15/Aug/05)


First natural forest concession in Kalimantan certified

PT Erna Djuliawati's 184,206 hectare concession in Central Kalimantan has gained FSC certification. This is the largest area of Indonesian forest to be certified and is only the second natural forest concession. (The first was PT Diamond Raya Timber in Sumatra - a certification which is now being challenged.) The certifier was Smartwood who carried out the original assessment with the Indonesian Ecolabeling Foundation, LEI, in July 2003. Smartwood claims that, through the certification process, PT Erna Djuliawati has "made great strides in improving its management methods, seeking wider stakeholder consultation with communities, training staff and village members on social conflict resolution and clearly identifying the boundaries of community lands." The company has developed a biodiversity plan and increased the area of forest to be set aside for conservation. A full summary of the certification assessment report in Indonesian and English is available at (Smartwood press release 23/Sep/05)


Smartwood-APP agreement

Following the breakdown of an agreement with WWF to monitor forest protection in its concessions, Asia Pulp & Paper has signed an agreement with the Rainforest Alliance (parent organisation for certification assessors Smartwood). Smartwood will monitor the condition of 120,000 hectares of so-called high conservation value forest in four concession areas managed by Sinar Mas: Siak, Serapung, Pulau Muda and Giam Siak Kecil. The five-year programme will carry out aerial and ground surveys plus analysis of satellite images to verify that these areas are being protected and that timber from them is not going to feed APP's paper mill in Riau - Indonesia's largest. (APP Press release 25/Aug/05)


New law on illegal logging stalled

With the government's strong focus on 'illegal logging', the Department of Forestry is keen to draft new legislation on this issue. However, no progress has been made as the Indonesian parliament is said to favour including the content of such a bill as an amendment to the 1999 Forestry Act. (Pers com 25/Oct/05)


Parlimentary questions over Intracawood legality

Indonesian parliamentary commission IV has declared that an extension of PT Intracawood's logging permit is illegal. The state-owned forestry company PT Inhutani I originally held the concession rights but now has only a 25% stake in the operation, Inhutani I was granted an extension to manage the 195,100 hectare concession in 1995. It appears that Intracawood applied separately for an extension of its HPH licence in August 2004. An official team will be sent to East Kalimantan to investigate the concession areas which lie in Bulungan and Malinau districts. (Investor Daily Online, via WalhiNews, 29/Sept/05)


Aceh environmental groups call for action on forests

Environmental groups in Aceh are increasingly concerned by recent reports of illegal logging in Bireuen, Aceh Singkil and Aceh Tenggara districts. They describe the situation as a 'free for all' and accuse the provincial forestry office of ineffectually blaming local and central authorities instead of taking action to prevent forest destruction. They urge the forestry office to work with district officials and the police to stop all illegal timber operations by arresting people who finance the logging. The 10 NGOs, which include Walhi Aceh and the local WWF office, also call on Aceh's governor to take a firm stand so that logging permits are withdrawn. (Working Group on Aceh's forests 5/Oct/05)


Riau police confiscate illegal timber

During a raid against illegal logging in the province, Riau police confiscated over 1,600 cubic metres of illegally-felled logs from the River Gaung in Indragiri Hilir district. They suspect the logs were to be smuggled to Malaysia. A Malaysian man is accused of illegal logging. (Jakarta Post 31/Oct/05)


Forestry association chair jailed and fined for corruption

The chair of Indonesia's Forestry Association (APHI), Adiwarsita Adinegoro, was sentenced to six years in jail for misuse of the association's funds. Three other APHI officials received four-year jail sentences. Adiwarsita and the other officials must also pay Rp43.5 billion to the state. They were convicted of lending APHI funds to third parties. The money collected from APHI members, including five state-owned forestry companies, were supposed to finance aerial mapping for forest conservation.(Jakarta Post 13/Oct/05)


Buru forest farmers appeal for their land

Indigenous communities on the island of Buru in the Moluccas are pressing the authorities for the return of forest land taken from them in 1957. The land in Lilialy, Kajely and Tanalisa is planted with eucalyptus trees which produce a fragrant oil used in the cosmetic industry. Maluku Tengah district government originally took over the plantation nearly 50 years ago, with the intention of increasing production of the kayu putih oil, despite strong opposition from the local adat (customary) council. With the creation of new administrative areas, the indigenous people's plantation is now part of the assets of Buru district. The three communities formed an association in late 2004 and have held meetings with and written to the district administration and representatives of the local assembly. As yet, there has been no acknowledgement of their rights and the local authorities continue to exploit the eucalyptus plantation to generate revenue for the district. (YPPM 25/Sep/05)


Report challenges deforestation & flooding link

A report by the Food & Agricultural Organisation of the United Nationas (FAO) and the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) concludes that there is no scientific evidence linking large-scale flooding to deforestation. Although trees can minimise the runoff that causes localised flooding, much depends on soil depth and structure. During prolonged heavy rain, the roots of most forest trees are too shallow to absorb sufficient water and prevent flooding.

Forests & Floods: Drowning in Fiction or Thriving on Facts claims that the current view is a myth which benefits governments who blame hill farmers for causing deforestation to give the appearance of taking action on flooding. Instead they point to complex interactions between natural and man-made factors, such as draining wetlands, farming floodplains and straightening rivers. The report suggests that an integrated approach to land management in watersheds and river basins is likely to be more effective in preventing widespread flooding than logging bans. (CIFOR 14/Oct/05)