Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Warning Light for Aceh Forests

by Fachruddin M. Mangunjaya

Quoted from: Koran Tempo Tuesday, 9 January, 2007

EnvironmentalistTWO years after the tsunami catastrophe in Aceh, the fears of other ensuing disasters voiced by environment lovers and several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) turned out to be proven. Floods recently hit five regencies in Aceh. Head of the Mount Leuser National Park, Ir Wiratno, affirmed that the floods had resulted from illegal logging already left uncontrolled for years in the zone (Koran Tempo, December 26, 2006).

A year ago (December 5, 2005), the Aceh Forest Advocacy Working Group rejected the Minister of Forestry Decree to increase Aceh's timber quota from 47,000 cubic meters in 2005 to 500,000 cubic meters in 2006 by reactivating forest concessions. According to the working group comprising various NGOs, the move taken by the Department of Forestry was hasty and unreasonable.

Carefully calculating, even preventing, deforestation in Sumatra constitutes an absolute condition to forestall any recurrence of ecocide (killing of people by natural disasters) due to faulty policies.The World Bank estimated that the remaining lowland forests in Aceh were increasingly reduced. Its records for 15 years from 1982 to 1997 concluded that the forest damage affecting this region reached an average of 22,500 hectares a year.

Global Forest Watch noted that until the mid-1990s, Aceh's degraded forest areas covered 1,025,858 hectares and denuded areas 362,835 hectares. These figures have not yet been revised following the tsunami and destruction caused by widespread post-reform illegal logging over the last 10 years.>>more