Greenpeace calls for moratorium on logging and land conversion in Sumatra and Kalimantan

Feature story - August 17, 2005
17 Aug. 2005 -- Greenpeace today called on the Indonesian government to establish a moratorium on new industrial logging and land conversion operations in Sumatra and Kalimantan in light of the recent forest fires which blanketed Southeast Asia with haze.

Photo of 1997 forest fires that ravaged Sumatra and clouded Southeast Asia with haze.

Photo of 1997 forest fires that ravaged Sumatra and clouded Southeast Asia with haze.

Photo of 1997 forest fires that ravaged Sumatra and clouded Southeast Asia with haze.

"The government must act decisively against further destruction of the country's remaining forests and in preventing forest fires which affect Southeast Asia.  A moratorium on new concessions, whether for industrial logging or land conversion  for timber and palm oil plantations, in Sumatra and Kalimantan is a necessary step to curb forest destruction and forest fires since the government cannot assure adequate monitoring of illegal operations anyway," said Hapsoro, Regional Forest Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

 

In the past week, environmental groups reported more than 1,700 sources of fires in the Sumatran province of Riau alone, a significant number of which were located in logging concessions and timber plantations.  Yet, the government does not seem to recognize the root of the problem.

 

"It's difficult to understand the Indonesian government's intention in dealing with forest fires.  On the one hand it says it is very serious in tackling the problem, but amidst raging forest fires and the resulting haze that blanketed Southeast Asia, it also announced it was encouraging new investments in Kalimantan from the pulp and paper industry.  This industry will most likely be associated with forest destruction and forest fires," Hapsoro added.

 

Every year, haze blankets several countries in Southeast Asia due to forest fires originating from timber and palm oil operations in Sumatra and Kalimantan. A regional ASEAN task force to deal with the annual haze problem consistently fails to find solutions.

 

"The ASEAN cannot turn a blind eye on the forest fires and the destruction that is happening in Indonesia's remaining ancient forests. There must be concrete actions," Hapsoro said.

 

The forests of Sumatra and Borneo are part of the Paradise Forest of Asia-Pacific, one of the world’s remaining great ancient forests, which traverse Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and nearby archipelagos.

 

Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organisation which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force solutions which are essential to a green and peaceful future.

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