Riau Province : Rank No.1 in Illegal Timber Export

EoF News / 27 January 2006

Pekanbaru, KOMPAS-- Rampant illegal logging practices in Riau have placed the province on the top list of provinces in Indonesia with the highest rate of illegal timber export, beside Kalimantan and Papua. Every month about 126,000 cubic meters of illegal timber are exported to Malaysia from this province alone.

This fact was revealed during a National Workshop on Eradicating Illegal Logging in Riau, on Thursday, January 24 held in Pekanbaru by Riau Regional Police Office. Attended by various groups including wood based companies, communities living around forest area, students, and environmental NGOs, the workshop was aimed to trigger joint commitment among various stakeholders on combating illegal logging.

Despite their protection status, illegal logging is rampant in seven protected areas in Riau. They are Mahato Protected Forest, Rimbang Baling Wildlife Sanctuary, Tesso Nilo National Park, Kerumutan Wildlife Sanctuary, Bukit Tigapuluh National Park, Bukit Suligi and Bukit Betabuh Protected Forests.

”Illegal logging activities happened even inside national park areas. This is sad, because national park is the last harbor to defend the ecosystem protection. Apart from ten thousands recent confiscated illegal timber, there are estimated 5-10 times more timber logged from protected areas,” said Ministry of Forestry Mr.MS Kaban when opening the workshop.

The Head of Riau Regional Police Ito Sumardi said since October 2005-January 2006 the Riau Team of Eradication of Illegal Logging—which was formed under presidential decree and Riau governor order—have confiscated more than 22,000 cubic metres of timber.

During the workshop, the strong network of illegal logging, particularly within certain district area including among head of district, forestry officials, security forces, and backed up by timber dealers, was recognized as the biggest challenges in combating illegal logging.

Recent investigation by the Riau Team of Eradication of Illegal Logging led by Vice Governor Wan Abu Bakar reported a head of district of actively involved in illegal logging by issuing Small Scale Timber Concession License (IPK).

In addition to the workshop, ministry from five departments has signed agreement on the rehabilitation of Siak watershed in Meredan Village, Tualang Sub-district, Siak District, yesterday (Jan 26). The watershed rehabilitation is expected to be the model for conservation of peat swamp area in Indonesia. The agreement was signed by the Ministry of Environment Rahmad Witoelar, the Ministry of Public Work Agoes Widjanarko, the Ministry of Transportation Hatta Rajasa, the Ministry of Research and Technology Kusmayanto Kadiman, and the Ministry of Forestry MS Kaban.