District head, pulp mills blamed for rampantly illegal logging

EoF News / 10 July 2006

At the meeting, a senior official of Industry Ministry said pulp and paper industry is also responsible for massive deforestation and urged the authority to revoke their license for sourcing illegal timber, JPNN through Riau Pos reported.

Local regulation allows district head to have authority to issue HPH license which is also blamed to instigate illegal logging practices across the country, said Bambang Edi, a director at Ministry of Forestry.

The local government has such authority which not provided by supervision mechanism on sustainable forest conservation which inevitably incites ecological damage, he said.

Decentralization has paved the way for local leaders to have much more power in hands including in issuing Industrial Timber Plantation license by 100 hectares, said Bambang Edi.

The authority tends to outrageous where almost everybody can hold license from district head, even a bogus cooperative, he said. “This becomes major factor inciting illegal logging,” he added saying inadequate supervisory mechanism along with the superfluous license issuances.

Bambang said the authority for district head to issue the license had been annulled in 2002, but astoundingly the licenses remain extendable nowadays.

EoF found through thorough investigation that timber companies which supplied their logs to pulp and paper industry likely to hold license issued by district head, locally called IUPHHK-HT.

Director General of Chemical Industry and Agro of Industry Ministry, Benny Wahyudi, said widespread pulp mills play a role in instigating illegal logging practices.

The pulp and paper industry is eager to gain much profit and meet productive target by sourcing timber supply from community illegally. The permit for pulp mills like these should be revoked, he suggested.

Rampantly illegal logging and extreme conversion of peat swamp forests into plantations by pulp and paper industry are simultaneously threatening one of the world’s largest tropical peat swamp forests in Riau province.

In another development, National Police chief Gen. Sutanto and Forestry Minister M.S. Kaban are reportedly distraught by “too many illegal logging suspects are being acquitted by the courts and others are receiving light sentences”, The Jakarta Post reported Thursday.

Both officials said they were especially concerned about the decision by courts in Papua to acquit 18 people accused of illegal logging, including alleged financiers, during the past year.

Meanwhile, The National Police said Tuesday they had arrested a retired two-star Army general and other two company directors for their alleged involvement in forest crime in East Kalimantan.

The suspects through their companies harvested natural forest logs on state-owned land in the province and illegally sold them to Singapore and Malaysia, The Jakarta Post reported.