Apr 10, 2007

Indonesia: Condemns Illegal Logging

Indonesia appeals to world consumers to halt the consumption of products made from illegally logged wood, calling on the international community to put forest preservation at the top of their environmental agenda.

Below is an article written by Achmad Sukarsono published by Reuters AlertNet:

Indonesia appealed on Monday [09 April 2007] to world consumers to stop buying products made from illegally logged wood, and said rich countries should pay the poor to preserve forests in the battle against global warming.

Environmentalists say illegal logging in Indonesia strips 2.1 million hectares (5.2 million acres) of forest every year in a trade worth $4 billion.

"I want to appeal to the citizens of the whole world to look for the stamp of approval," Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar said, adding there were systems in place to distinguish stolen wood from legitimate products.

A report last month by the Environmental Investigation Agency and Indonesia-based Telapak said that Malaysia and China were major recipients of stolen Indonesian timber and that shipping companies from Singapore carried such wood overseas.

Witoelar, who said that furniture using illegally cut timber from the Indonesian region of Papua was being sold in shopping malls as far away as Britain, urged other countries to help oversee whether wood may have been logged illegally.

He was speaking at a news conference with Australian Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who was in Jakarta to discuss a new World Bank-backed fund aimed at countering global warming through the protection of forests.

Australia -- which declined to join the Kyoto Protocol on climate change that sets greenhouse gas emission targets for nations -- plans to contribute A$200 million ($161 million) over five years to the fund, which will be mostly spent in Indonesia.

Programmes for the fund are still under discussion but may include reforestation as well as satellite-monitoring of the illegal logging problem.

Indonesia wants rich countries to pay developing nations to preserve their forests and plans to push this proposal at a United Nations conference on climate change to be held in the Indonesian resort island of Bali in December.

"Crudely, how much can they pay for our (forest) protection. The entire world should protect this together," Witoelar said.

Turnbull said forestry should top the agenda at that meeting.

"We must give the world a breathing space. We do that by breathing life to the lungs of the earth," he said, adding that many signatories of the Kyoto Protocol would not meet their targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions while Australia "will meet our Kyoto target" without ratifying the document.

"Forestry has been largely overlooked by the Kyoto mechanism. That is something we must correct in Bali," he said.