UK and Indonesia sign landmark agreement on illegal logging

Down to Earth Press Release, 19 April 2002

...but forest communities' rights still violated

Britain and Indonesia are expected to announce today a Memorandum of Understanding to help protect tropical rainforest. Indonesia's forestry minister, Muhammad Prakosa, is in London to sign the agreement with UK Department for International Development. The MoU sets out how the two countries will co-operate on forest law enforcement and governance to combat illegal logging and the international trade in illegally logged timber and wood products.

Down to Earth, the International Campaign for Ecological Justice in Indonesia, has welcomed the MoU. But DTE is also urging the Indonesian government to recognise the rights of forest dwellers as part of the effort to save Indonesia's disappearing forests.

Forest peoples are still being evicted from their lands to make way for logging, plantations and mines backed by foreign capital, including British companies. DTE hopes that the MoU will be a first step towards more fundamental reforms to stop forest destruction - legal and illegal - and to prevent community rights violations.

DTE's campaigner, Liz Chidley, said:

"We feel strongly that British companies should be held accountable for their involvement in operations in Indonesia which lead to gross human rights violations against Indigenous Peoples and other marginalised communities who depend on forest resources for their livelihoods."

DTE also signed a joint statement by UK NGOs handed to Mr Prakosa, which called for the recognition of forest dependent communities' rights, action on corruption and corporate accountability.

DTE supports calls from Indonesian groups for action on illegal logging to be part of a broader reform process tackling the underlying causes of deforestation. The goal is sustainable forest management and better lives for forest people.

Notes for editors:

  1. Indonesian law gives the state control over almost all forest land. This means denying up to 40 million people their land and resource rights.
  2. Deforestation rates in Indonesia are now estimated at over 2.6 million hectares per year - an area larger than Wales.
  3. WALHI (Friends of the Earth Indonesia), one of Indonesia's leading environmental NGOs, is calling for a logging moratorium to give the country's last remaining forests a chance of survival, while new policies are hammered out.
  4. AMAN, Indonesia's indigenous peoples alliance, wants indigenous rights to forest resources recognised under Indonesian law and the right to veto any projects affecting their lands.
  5. Rio Tinto, CDC and HSBC are among UK companies financing forest destruction in Indonesia.

See also Statement by UK NGOs