Indonesian Ministry of Forestry smoked out by Greenpeace

Haze chokes Southeast Asia again as Indonesian government fails to halt forest conversion

Feature story - October 5, 2006
As Haze from fires raging in Riau province and central Kalimnatan, cloaks Singapore, Malyasia and other parts of Indonesia. Greenpeace activists literally smoked out the Ministry of Forestry in Jakarta to highlight its consistent failure to halt forest conversion that causes forest fires which perennially choke countries in Southeast Asia.

Greenpeace activists hung a large banner in front of the building stating “Stop Forest Conversion” calling on Indonesian Forestry Minister, M.S. Kaban, to immediately stop all land clearing operations in the few remaining forests in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

Greenpeace activists hung a large banner in front of the building stating “Stop Forest Conversion” calling on Indonesian Forestry Minister, M.S. Kaban, to immediately stop all land clearing operations in the few remaining forests in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

Indonesian Minister of Forestry, M.S. Kaban, addresses the press following the Greenpeace smoke and banner action at his ministry on thursday 5 October demanding ban of forest conversion.

Greeenpeace activists released smoke at the Indonesian Ministry of forestry building in Jakarta, demanding that there should be no more conversion of forests that causes forest fire and haze.

The activists also hung a large banner in front of the building stating "Stop Forest Conversion" calling on Indonesian Forestry Minister, M.S. Kaban, to immediately stop all land clearing operations in the few remaining forests in Sumatra and Kalimantan and break the cycle of fire and haze that threatens the health of millions across the region.

Since last week, haze from fires raging in Riau province and central Kalimnatan, the last remaining forests of Indonesia, has cloaked Singapore, Malyasia and other parts of Indonesia. This has severely affected air quality, obscured sunlight and has reduced visibility. According to the Singapore National Environment Agency, the haze resulted in the highest level of air pollution in Singapore this year.

The forests in Sumatra and Kalimantan, site of ongoing widespread forest destruction, are also home to of some of the world's most endangered animals like the Sumatran rhinoceros, tiger, Oranga Utan and the Asian elephant. The forests are cleared and converted into pulpwood and oil palm plantations. Forest clearing is the leading cause of the fires and is major a factor in creating environmental conditions that perpetuate the problem.

"During our investigations last month, we discovered that big industrial concessionaires, more than small farmers, were responsible for these forest fires," said Hapsoro, Forest Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia. "Clearly any new concessions for conversion of virgin forests will continue to result in large-scale forest fires and continued environmental destruction on an annual basis. The Forest Minister must immediately stop all new conversions to minimize the possibility of large and uncontrolled forest fires in Indonesia," he added.

Greenpeace activists hung a large banner in front of the building stating “Stop Forest Conversion” calling on Indonesian Forestry Minister, M.S. Kaban, to immediately stop all land clearing operations in the few remaining forests in Sumatra and Kalimantan.© Greenpeace / Shailendra Yashwant

The combination of peatland conversion and forest fires is also causing global environmental damage by releasing massive quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, further adding to the problem of climate change.

Greenpeace believes that national, regional and international efforts must be made to protect these forests from illegal logging, forest conversion and fires in order to protect humanity from the adverse effects of climate change.       

Greenpeace calls on the Indonesian government to:

      1. To stop all forest clearing in fragile peatland eco-systems, including the extension of new area for both pulpwood and oil palm plantation.


        2. Investigate and hold liable plantation companies responsible for slash and burn clearing,


        3. Put in place permanent mechanisms to build capacity to assess vulnerability, develop regional climate models and design and assess adaptation strategies that consider the vulnerability of local communities and indigenous species.

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