Minister extends deadline to clear forest for pulp material

EoF News / 12 January 2009

PEKANBARU (EoF News)—  The Ministry of Forestry allowed pulp and paper industry to source its raw material from natural forest that annulled the government’s scenario to end the sourcing by year 2009 as a Minister of Forestry Decree stipulated in 2004.

 Minister of Forestry, Malem Sambat Kaban, said Friday in Jakarta that he would provide an opportunity for pulp and paper industry to source raw material from natural forest as the pulpwood plantation companies’ supply are adequate due to troubled development occurred within last two years, website reported quoting Antara news agency last week (09/01/2008). “Policy to use timber from natural forest for pulp and paper industry could be extended,” Minister Kaban said.

The ministry had designated a policy prohibiting the pulp industry to use timber from natural forest by issuing the Minister of Forestry Decree number 101/Menhut-II/2004 by year 2009. The regulation stipulated that pulpwood plantation companies relating to pulp and paper industry should complete planting in their respective concessions by 2009.

The minister said that illegal logging allegations accused to some pulpwood companies have caused the pulpwood development in trouble. This decision followed the controversial conclusion made by Riau Police on 22 December last year that closed illegal logging cases that allegedly involved 13 timber and pulp companies in the province.

Environmental NGOs in Riau and in Jakarta had protested the decision made by the police who considered that there should be legal certainty for the 13 companies as the motive to close the cases. The police said the Riau Prosecutors Office had rejected two expert witnesses they proposed and had preferred to those from the government instead. From Bogor, West Java, Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI) urged the government to issue policy  for pulp and paper industry to stop sourcing timber from natural forest.

FWI exemplified cases occurred to APRIL and APP in Riau where the companies remained to rely upon raw material from natural forest to meet its deficit for their pulp production.

Wirendro Sumargo, Director Executive of Forest Watch Indonesia said through a press release last week (05/01/2009), “Recently the government has issued many sector policies which are solely oriented to enhance revenue, exploitative, and unsustainable.”

In another development,  Tengku Azmun Jaafar, defendant of corruption cases from Pelalawan District logging licenses, was lost at his effort for appeal legal standing, Tribun Pekanbaru reported last week (09/01/2009). High Court of Anti-corruption had decided to weigh the sentence from 11 year imprisonment to 16 year in jail to the former Pelalawan District Head.