Greenpeace calls for UK-Indonesia agreement to stop Paradise Forest destruction

Feature story - March 29, 2006
This is a call for the Indonesian and British governments to adopt binding legal mechanisms to stop the ongoing destruction of Indonesia’s last ancient forests. As the ancient forests of Indonesia, are being destroyed faster than any other forest on Earth, to meet demands from the European Union, USA, Japan and China.

Greenpeace campaigner, Ginger Cassady, from San Francisco, California, looks at a pile of logs along the coast of Papua. Greenpeace flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, sailed into Papua to highlight the destruction of Paradise Forests, the last ancient forests in Asia-Pacific. The ancient forests of Indonesia are being destroyed faster than any other forest on Earth, fuelled by demands from the European Union

Greenpeace campaigners Hapsoro (left, from Indonesia) and Ginger Cassady (from San Francisco, California) displays a banner that says “Stop Forest Crime” at a logging operation along the coast of Papua. Greenpeace flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, sailed into Papua to highlight the destruction of Paradise Forests, the last ancient forests in Asia-Pacific. The ancient forests of Indonesia are being destroyed faster than any other forest on Earth, fuelled by demands from the European Union, USA, Japan and China.

Greenpeace campaigner, Hapsoro, from Indonesia, looks at a pile of logs along the coast of Papua. Greenpeace flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, sailed into Papua to highlight the destruction of Paradise Forests, the last ancient forests in Asia-Pacific. The ancient forests of Indonesia are being destroyed faster than any other forest on Earth, fuelled by demands from the European Union, USA, Japan and China.

Greenpeace campaigner, Ginger Cassady, from San Francisco, California, looks at a pile of logs along the coast of Papua. Greenpeace flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, sailed into Papua to highlight the destruction of Paradise Forests, the last ancient forests in Asia-Pacific, which is fuelled by demand from USA, EU, Japan and China.

Crane loads logs onto a barge at the coast of Papua. Greenpeace flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, sailed into Papua to highlight the destruction of Paradise Forests, the last ancient forests in Asia-Pacific. The ancient forests of Indonesia are being destroyed faster than any other forest on Earth, fuelled by demands from the European Union, USA, Japan and China.

A loader piles logs along the coast of Biak Island in Papua. This picture is taken from Greenpeace flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, which sailed into Papua to highlight the destruction of Paradise Forests, the last ancient forests in Asia-Pacific.

On the eve of Prime Minister Tony Blair's historic visit to Indonesia, Greenpeace called on the leaders of UK and Indonesian governments to adopt binding legal mechanisms to stop the ongoing destruction of Indonesia's last ancient forests.

The ancient forests of Indonesia, part of the Paradise Forests of Asia-Pacific (1), are being destroyed faster than any other forest on Earth, fuelled by demands from the European Union, USA, Japan and China.  

In 2004, the UK has been Indonesia's largest trading partner for timber products in Europe, importing some EUR 121 million worth of timber products (2).

"Prime Minister Blair and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will talk about security threats, but they should not forget that one of the most serious threats to Indonesia is the destruction of our forests from which up to 50 million Indonesians rely for food and livelihood. The UK must lead the European Union in putting together legal mechanisms that prohibit the entry of timber and timber products that come from illegal and destructive logging operations in Indonesia," said Hapsoro, Forest Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Deforestation rates in Indonesia are among the highest in the world with at least 1.9 million hectares of forest destroyed every year for the last five years (3), equivalent to six football fields a minute.  In total, Indonesia has already lost more than 72% of its large intact ancient forest areas and 40% of its forest have been completely destroyed (4).  Much of the logging in Indonesia is illegal and, according to Indonesia Forest Minister, Malam Sambat Kaban, "defrauds" the country of USD$ 4 billion each year. (5)  

Compounding these problems is China's role in the global laundering of illegal timber from the Paradise Forests. A Greenpece report released yesterday, indicates that international demand for timber in Europe, USA, Japan and other developed countries along with domestic demands from China has resulted in an increase in the timber trade from the Paradise Forests (6).

Indonesia and Europe recently entered into negotiations on a Voluntary Partnership  Agreement (VPA) which aims to prevent imports of illegally logged timber into the European market from Indonesia.(7)

"Indonesia and Europe must act now to ensure that any timber entering Europe is not from illegal and destructive operations," said Hapsoro. "Moreover, they should address the problem of illegally logged timber being 'laundered' through third countries, such as China and Malaysia. This is not dealt with in the VPAs and should be. It's clear that ancient forests like the Paradise Forests of Asia Pacific can only be protected for furture generations if countries work together to put an end to the  international trade in timber from illegal and destructive logging operations."

Greenpeace flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, is currently off the coast of Papua on a mission to protect the Paradise Forests from illegal and destructive logging. Greenpeace also launched an eco-forestry programme in Papua to offer community-based forest management solutions as an alternative to large-scale, industrial logging.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Hapsoro, Forest Campaigner (onboard the Rainbow Warrior) +62 8121 108 256

Nabiha Shahab, Media Officer, +62 8131 421 3432

1) The Paradise Forests is Asia-Pacific's last remaining intact ancient forest, stretching from Southeast Asia, across the islands of Indonesia and towards Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands in the Pacific. 2) Source: EuroStat 3) FAO. 2005. Global Forest Resources Assessment 2005. FAO's definition of "forest loss" is, when canopy cover is less than 10%. In a tropical forest this may mean only 7 trees on the area the size of a football field 4) Resources Institute. 1997. The Last Frontier Forests 5) '10 regents in Kalimantan prosecuted for illegal logging' , The Jakarta Post, 5th December 2005 6) www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/sharing-the-blame 7) This "VPA" a bilateral agreement between Indonesia and Europe is under an EU process called Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT), designed to tackle the problem of imports of illegal timber and timber products into Europe from several tropical timber producing countries.

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