SBY orders taskforce to tackle illegal logging

EoF News / 08 April 2010

(The Jakarta Post, 8 April 2010)-- For the second time this week, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has expressed concern over illegal logging, ordering the presidential taskforce to probe the practice, which is among the causes of deforestation.

The President said here Wednesday that he believed the practice remained rampant despite efforts because of the role of judicial mafia in the forestry sector.

“The Anti Judiciary Mafia Taskforce must reach out to the sector so that we can control, process and reduce forestry crimes significantly, if not end them outright,” the President told a press conference in Halim Perdana Kusuma Airport before his departure to Hanoi, Vietnam, for the 16th ASEAN Summit.

“I hereby underline the importance of preserving our forests, which applies to all of Indonesia’s provinces and law enforcement institutions, continue measures to eradicate illegal logging,” he added.

The taskforce is a special team that was set up early January to tackle “big fish” cases involving corruption in the country’s judicial system.

Within two months of operation it has managed to expose two major cases; namely the luxurious treatment given to certain inmates in the country’s penitentiaries, which led to the government’s prison reform plan, and, most recently, alleged graft in the tax office involving officials from the National Police and Attorney General’s Office.

He has specifically addressed the issue of illegal logging twice in the last few days. In a Cabinet meeting on Monday he told law enforcement institutions and heads of regional administrations to take actionsagainst illegal logging.

He warned them against acting “softly” and “permissively” toward the perpetrators, and told them not to fear of possible backing for the forestry criminals.

He also expressed his disappointment over his subordinates’ failure to compile a regular and systematic report on illegal logging activities and action taken against them.

The President on Wednesday reiterated for both central government and regional administrations to partner with environmental NGOs, saying the government possessed the same environmental goals with the latter.

He particularly praised Greenpeace Indonesia and the Indonesian Forum for Environment (Walhi) for “actively criticizing the government’s forestry management”.

The President also reminded the heads of regional administrations to support the central government’s national tree planting movement as part of reforestation measures.

Indonesia is the world’s third-largest forested nation with about 120 million hectares of rainforest. The country, however, experiences the fastest deforestation rate on the planet, with around 1.08 million hectares lost each year.

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Data from the Forestry Ministry shows the deforestation rate between 1998 and 2000 reached 2.8 million hectares per year due to massive forest conversion, illegal logging and forest fires.

Yudhoyono earlier announced Indonesia’s commitment to reducing the country’s carbon emissions by 26 percent by 2020 using its own resources and by 41 percent with international funding.