Forests & forest fires

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 67  November 2005

Four leading Indonesian NGOs organised a workshop and seminar in early October on the policy implications of natural resource exploitation in Kalimantan. The meeting was attended by representatives of various communities affected by large-scale plantation and mining projects plus 21 NGOs from Kalimantan and 2 from Sarawak.

Down to Earth No 67  November 2005

Police open fire on farmers in Lombok

Indonesian human rights NGO Elsam has protested against the police shooting of farmers attending a national meeting in Lombok. Twenty seven people suffered gunshot injuries on September 18th when police dispersed a farmers' union general assembly organised by the Nusa Tenggara Barat union and the Federation of Indonesian Farmers Unions (FSPI). Eight people were detained at the meeting, which was attended by farmers' representatives from 26 countries.

Down to Earth No 66  August 2005

Indonesia has announced plans for the world's biggest oil palm plantation, as part of its bid to become the No.1 global producer of palm oil by the end of the decade.

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 66  August 2005

The following is the translation of an urgent action appeal from the Indonesian human rights NGO ELSAM. It is another case in which the state forestry company, Perhutani, is associated with brutality against farmers. Previous cases have been well-documented - see for example KaKKaPP letter, DTE 60.

On the morning of 7th April, 7 villagers from Krenceng (East Java) were detained by police from Kediri.