Exposed: Company destroying Papuan forests

Feature story - 12 April, 2006
Activists on board the Rainbow Warrior have intercepted a shipment of suspected illegal timber from the Paradise Forests whilst on forest crime patrol in Indonesia.

A loader sits atop a portion of the outward bound shipment onboard the ship MV Ardhianto as it is being loaded with a large consignment of plywood from some of the world’s most endangered forests, the Paradise Forests of Asia Pacific.

The forest crime patrol came across the ship just as newly released maps reveal that most of the last areas of ancient forest in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia have already been given to logging companies. The new map shows that 24 percent of Papua's forests and as much 46 percent of Papua New Guinea's (PNG) forests have already been sold as concessions.

Over the next couple of days a massive 9,000 cubic metres of plywood from the Henrison Iriana mill, a subsidiary of one of Indonesia's largest logging companies, Kayu Lapis Indonesia (KLI) will be loaded onto two ships. The timber is bound for markets in Asia and the US.

We have discovered that KLI's Henrison Iriana mill in Sorong in Indonesia received timber from potentially illegal sources in recent years. These sources supplied 70 percent of the mill's timber in 2004. The latest maps back up the findings of the crime patrol showing that much of the last ancient forests of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea are destined for the chopping block.

Millions of hectares of forest to be destroyed

By the end of 2005, the Indonesian government had granted logging concessions on 11.6 million hectares of forests in Papua province to 65 logging companies. Closer scrutiny of the concessions revealed that these 65 companies are actually owned by only a few national and multinational logging companies such as:

  • Kayu Lapis Indonesia (Indonesia)
  • Korindo Group (Korea, Indonesia)
  • Barito Pacific (UK, Indonesia)
  • Djajanti Group (Indonesia)
  • PT Hanurata (Indonesia)
  • PT Wapoga Mutiara Timber  (subsidiary of Rimbunan Hijau, Malaysia)

In February, our investigations documented serious violations of forestry regulations by a logging subsidiary of KLI, operating an industrial logging concession near the Henrison Iriana mill in Papua. This is KLI's largest concession in Indonesia and is a major supplier to the mill.

The company must provide proof that all timber entering its mills is from legal, well-managed sources and to provide documents that show exactly where the timber came from to ensure they are not from the last intact forest areas of the Paradise forests.

Already, much of the large, intact forests in the Paradise Forests have already been cut down - 72 percent in Indonesia and 60 percent in PNG. The new maps released by Greenpeace and Forest Watch Indonesia showthat as much as 35 percent (29 million hectares) of what is left of New Guinea Island's rainforest have already beengiven away as concessions to logging companies.

This revelation comes just weeks after we released groundbreaking satellite maps which reveal that the world's forests are in critical condition. The maps provide evidence that less than 10 percent of the Earth's land area remains as large intact forest areas.

Papua province is home to the Paradise Forests largest undamaged forests but logging companies, like KLI, are destroying them at an unprecedented rate. At least 76 percent of logging in Indonesia, including in Papua province, is illegal. The stolen timber is likely to end up on the shelves of timber retailers in Japan, Europe, or the US as cheap Meranti or Lauan plywood.

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