Illegal logging in Indonesian Borneo.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono asked timber-consuming countries to join the fight against illegal logging in Indonesia, reports the Jakarta Globe.
In remarks commemorating World Environmental Day, Yudhoyono said that while Indonesia is stepping up efforts to control illegal logging, countries that import timber products should be vigilant against illicit timber.
“Whenever we sell timber, we take the heat for deforestation. Certainly there are violations everywhere, which is what we’re cracking down on, but the truth is that there are also fences outside the country,” he was quoted as saying by the Jakarta Globe.
“Other countries should stop fencing illegally felled timber. That’s the kind of deal that we need to work on. That’s why it’s only fair if the world contributes [financially] to helping forest countries that want to preserve their resources.”
Some countries are already supporting Indonesia’s efforts to curtail illegal logging. Last year Norway pledged a billion dollars to help Indonesia reduce its deforestation rate and this month Indonesia and the EU inked the Voluntary Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT–VPA) to establish a certification system to reduce illegal logging. The United States has the Lacey Act, which imposes stiff fines on companies found to be importing timber harvested illegally.
But countries that serve as intermediaries for Indonesian timber — China, Malaysia, and Singapore — have been slow to enact reforms.
Yudhoyono’s remarks came the same day Indonesia’s Anti-Mafia Law Task Force moved to reopen an investigation into an illegal logging case involving 14 pulp and paper companies — seven of which are associated with Asia Pulp & Paper — in Riau Province. Prosecutors say the fraud cost the Indonesian state up to $115 billion in losses, yet the case was scuttled by local officials before it could go to court.
A separate investigation earlier this year found hundreds of mining and plantation companies in Kalimantan in Indonesian Borneo had failed to secure the proper permits. It estimated state losses at $36 billion.
Yudhoyono has lately pushed his 7/26 vision which calls for 7 percent economic growth and a 26 percent reduction in projected greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. As part of the “green growth” strategy, Yudhoyono last month issued an instruction that defines a two-year moratorium on new concessions in primary forest areas and peatlands. The aim of the moratorium is to give agencies time to begin implementing much-needed governance reforms in the forestry sector.