WWF, Walhi, Jikalahari: “Logging Moratorium for Companies with Questionable Industrial Timber Plantation Licenses”

EoF Press Release / 27 July 2005

 Press Release:
WWF, Walhi, Jikalahari: “Logging Moratorium for Companies with Questionable Industrial Timber Plantation Licenses”

JAKARTA, Indonesia (EoF News, 27 July, 2006) — Today Eyes on the Forest, a coalition of Sumatran environmental NGOs, called on all companies who are clearcutting natural forests based on Industrial Timber Plantation Licenses (IUPHHK-HT) issued by Governors or Heads of Districts to immediately issue a moratorium on all such operations. The coalition also called on all companies sourcing timber from such activities to immediately stop all deliveries. The Ministry of Forestry (MoF) is currently reviewing the validity of these licenses. Eyes on the Forest supports the legal review as a very significant step towards the conservation of some of the country's remaining natural forests. Locally issued licenses have been used to clear large areas of natural forests in disregard of MoF regulations that protected them .

Eyes on the Forest found that 34 companies received licenses from heads of districts in Riau to clear 289,809 ha of natural forest. T heir customers are Riau's t wo pulp and paper companies. Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings, Ltd. (APRIL) and Asia Pulp & Paper Co., Ltd. (APP) have been pulping Riau's natural forests for years. The two giant mills have been a major threat to Riau's forests which declined by 52% (3,471,590 ha) between 1982 and 2004. Riau's forests are some of the most biodiverse in the world. They are home to the endangered Sumatran elephant and tiger. Both are dying as their forests disappear.

Zulfahmi, coordinator of Riau's NGO network JIKALAHARI, calls on APRIL and APP to stop sourcimg timber from natural forests. “ Eyes on the Forest investigators as recently as May 2005 found APRIL sourcing timber from Kampar, Bukit Tigapuluh and Kerumutan forest blocks, and APP buying from Libo and Senepis blocks. Eyes on the Forest will continue to investigate and report the findings on its web site,” said Zulfahmi.

Eyes on the Forest fully supports MoF's review of the licensing process. However, experience has shown that parties with vested interests may try to influence it. Transparency International Indonesia just confirmed Riau's capital Pekanbaru as one of the most corrupt cities in Indonesia. Eyes on the Forest therefore calls on all stakeholders to monitor the license review carefully and report any concerns on the EoF website. The information will immediately be made available to MoF's License Verification Team. Listya Kusumawardhani, coordinator of the team, has requested all relevant institutions and NGOs to help monitor the review and ensure that a clean and reliable process is followed.

"The review should be transparent and free from outside influence" said Rully Syumanda, Executive Director of WALHI Riau" We hope that it will lead to the prosecution of all those who use illegal licenses in their logging operations and who buy illegally sourced timber."

According to WWF, the review offers an opportunity to develop new concepts in prosecuting the instigators of illegal logging and taking the buyers to court.

"It is not enough to convict using forestry laws alone" said Dr Mubariq Ahmad, Executive Director, WWF Indonesia. "We need to bring multiple charges from the violation of forestry and tax laws to those targeting money laundering and corruption" said Dr Mubariq Ahmad, Executive Director WWF Indonesia.

For further information, please contact:

WALHI Riau : Rully Syumanda, Executive Director, email: roelly@indo.net.id ph 0761 23976 JIKALAHARI : Zulfahmi, Network Coordinator, email: zfahmi@jikalahari.org ph 0761-27875 WWF-Indonesia : Desmarita Murni, Communication Officer for Species Program, dmurni@wwf.or.id , ph 62-021-5761070 (ext 103)

Director of Forest Production Planning of BPK and Coordinator of Verification Team, : Ir.Listya Kusumawardhani M.Sc, email: listya@dephut.go.id Telp: 021 - 5733443

Notes to Editor:

    Eyes on the Forest is a coalition of three environmental organizations in Riau, Sumatra , Indonesia : WWF Indonesia , Jikalahari ("Forest Rescue Network Riau", alliance of 28 NGOs) and Walhi Riau (“Friends of the Earth Indonesia” Riau Office, alliance of 8 NGOs). The activities are funded by WWF Japan.
    Eyes on the Forest voiced its support of MoF's review of Industrial Timber Plantation Licenses during the launching of the Eyes on the Forest website in Jakarta (7/27). Eyes on the Forest investigators are monitoring logging and clear-cutting operations in Riau's remaining eight major forest blocks. Their reports, EoF News, and many background materials are published on the website. WWF, Walhi, and JIKALAHARI invited local, national, and international media, NGOs, companies, governments and any other interested parties to use the Eyes on the Forest website as a source of information on forest conservation in Riau and on the protection of the rights of the local people who rely on the forest for their livelihoods.
    Indonesian Perception Corruption Index 2004, released by Transparency International Indonesia, ranked Pekanbaru, the capital of Riau Province , as the 6 th most corrupted city of 22 cities surveyed in Indonesia . Pekanbaru was the worst city in terms of performance by local government, legislative, political parties, courts, judiciary, police, customs, tax services, and the military.