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Problems in the Paradise Forests

Page - December 1, 2006
Every year around the world, 7 million hectares of ancient forest are cleared or severely degraded. That's the equivalent of 30 football fields a minute.

Indonesian forest

The Paradise Forests are being destroyed faster than any other forest on the planet. Much of the large intact forest landscapes have already been cut down, 72 percent in Indonesia and 60 percent in Papua New Guinea.

In Indonesia alone, an area of forest at least the size of Wales (around 2 million hectares) disappears every year. When the bulldozers and chainsaws move in, the damage is staggering. In Papua New Guinea, for example, studies show that industrial loggers destroy seventeen trees for every one that is felled and removed.

In PNG it can be argued that all industrial logging is illegal, with the World Bank recently claiming it to be 70%. In Indonesia it is similar with both the Indonesian government and the World Bank recognising it to be 70-80%. The logging industry is one of the major contributors to corruption in the region.

The primary causes of forest loss and degradation vary from region to region. They include agricultural expansion, mining, settlement, shifting agriculture, plantation establishment and infrastructural development.

However, recent research by theWashington based World Resources Institute (WRI) concludes that "commercial logging poses by far the greatest danger to frontier forests ... affecting more than 70 percent of the world's threatened frontiers."

There now exists considerable evidence to show that industrial logging is another key factor in opening up previously unlogged forest to many secondary effects, such as large-scale hunting, illegal trade in bushmeat - including meat from apes, fuel-wood gathering and clearing for agriculture.

While logging is one of the most important causes of forest loss and degradation, the way the logging industry operates also exacerbates the problem.

Unplanned tree cutting and inefficient processing leads to an enormous wastage of wood, while lack of transparency within the industry makes it very difficult to trace the exact source of wood supply.

This makes it impossible to determine how well the forest from which it came is managed, leaving the industry open to widespread irresponsible and illegal practices worldwide.