Industrial logging threat looms large over rainforest Eden

Feature story - April 12, 2006
Large-scale commercial logging threatens to cut through Indonesia's last intact forest, the rainforest 'Eden' in Papua.

Pepsy Diabe, from Kamala clan, Kosuo tribe stands amidst the devastation of the recently logged mountain. Wawei Falls people believe their ancestors live in this mountain.

Greenpeace and Forest Watch Indonesia today sounded the alarm that large-scale commercial logging is about to cut through Indonesia's last intact forest, the rainforest 'Eden' in Papua, where scientists recently discovered a host of new species. (1)

New maps released by the environment organisations show that more than 25% of the forests in Papua (2) have already been given away as concessions to logging companies which export timber products to Japan, US, EU and China.

"A handful of companies have wiped out much of Indonesia's forests. They must be stopped from finishing off our last intact forests in Papua. The Indonesian government must put in place a moratorium on large-scale commercial logging activities in the intact forest landscapes of Indonesia, starting with Papua, until national and local forestry policies have been reviewed, proper landscape planning has been conducted and a significant increase in protected areas have been established," said Emmy Hafild, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Figures from the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry show that at the end of 2005, the government has already granted Hak Pengusahaan Hutan (HPH) or logging concessions on 11.6 million hectares of forests in Papua to 65 logging companies.  Closer scrutiny of the concessions, however, reveal that these companies are owned by a few national and multinational logging companies such as Kayu Lapis Indonesia, Korindo Group (Korea, Indonesia), Barito Pacific (UK, Indonesia), Djajanti Group (Indonesia), PT Hanurata (Indonesia) and PT Wapoga Mutiara Timber  (subsidiary of Rimbunan Hijau, Malaysia)

"More than a quarter of the forests in Papua have been sold off to logging companies.  Each of these concessions (HPH) last between 20 to 30 years. If the Indonesian government does nothing to stop logging concessions, soon all of our forests will be gone," said Christian Poerba, Executive Director of Forest Watch Indonesia.

Much of the large intact forest landscapes in the Paradise Forests of Asia pacific (3) have already been cut down -- 72% in Indonesia and 60% in Papua New Guinea - fuelled by demand for cheap timber by Japan, the US, the EU and China. In Papua New Guinea, the situation is desperate where 57% of intact forest landscapes are also covered by logging concessions.

Greenpeace recently released groundbreaking satellite maps which reveal that the world's forests are in critical condition. The maps provide evidence that less than 10% of the Earth's land area remains as large intact forest areas. (4)  New Guinea Island (Papua and PNG), or what is now being called the 'Garden of Eden', contains  the largest remaining area of intact forest in the Asia Pacific region.

"These maps provide new, important evidence to governments of the need to improve ancient forest protection all over the world, and in particular here, where the forests are being cut down faster than any other on Earth," said Ms Hafild.

Greenpeace flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, is arriving in Jakarta on April 22, 2006 to continue on its mission to protect the Paradise Forests from illegal and destructive logging. Yesterday, it discovered a cargo of timber about to leave Papua, destined for Japan, Korea and the US.

Greenpeace has launched a new project in Papua to set the stage for eco-enterprises which will help protect what is left of the largest intact, pristine forest in the region. It has set up a Global Forest Rescue Station in the forests of Papua New Guinea, where volunteers are working with landowners and other environment groups to protect the forests from illegal and destructive logging.

Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organisation which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force solutions essential to a green and peaceful future. It is committed to protecting the world's last ancient forests and the people and animals that depend upon them.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Christian Poerba, Executive Director, Forest Watch Indonesia, +62 8121105172 Arthur Jones Dionio, Communications officer in Jakarta: +62 852 196 52330 Matilda Bradshaw, Communications officer in Amsterdam: +31 653 504 701

1) Conservation International. February, 2006. Scientists Discover Dozens of New Species in "Lost World" of Western New Guinea. 2) Total forest area in Papua is 39 million ha according to Forestry Planning Office 3) The Paradise Forests stretch from South East Asia, across the islands of Indonesia and on towards Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands in the Pacific. 4)

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