Rainbow Warrior exposes forest destruction in rainforest Eden

Feature story - April 11, 2006
Unfurling “Stop ancient forest destruction” banners in front of the ship MV Ardhianto, activists from the Greenpeace flagship the Rainbow Warrior raised concern for the continous destruction brought about by destructive logging in the Paradise Forests.

A loader sits atop a portion of the outward bound shipment onboard the ship MV Ardhianto as it is being loaded with a large consignment of plywood from some of the world's most endangered forests, the Paradise Forests of Asia Pacific.

Workers onboard the ship MV Ardhianto as it is being loaded with a large consignment of plywood from some of the world's most endangered forests, the Paradise Forests of Asia Pacific.

The ship MV Ardhianto as it is being loaded with a large consignment of plywood from some of the world's most endangered forests, the Paradise Forests of Asia Pacific.

Activists from the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior unfurl a banner reading "Stop ancient forest destruction" in front of the ship MV Ardhianto as it is being loaded with a large consignment of plywood from some of the world's most endangered forests, the Paradise Forests of Asia Pacific.

Activists from Greenpeace flagship the Rainbow Warrior today unfurled protest banners saying "Stop ancient forest destruction" in front of the ship MV Ardhianto as it is being loaded with a large consignment of plywood from some of the world's most endangered forests, the Paradise Forests of Asia Pacific (1).

The ship is being loaded with up to 6,000 cubic metres of plywood destined for Japan and Korea and 3,000 cubic metres for the US. The timber is from the Henrison Iriana mill, a subsidiary of one of Indonesia's largest logging companies, Kayu Lapis Indonesia (KLI), and is destined for Japan, Korea and the US.

Papua is home to Asia Pacific's largest intact ancient forests but they are being destroyed at an unprecedented rate by logging companies, like KLI (2). At least 76% of logging in Indonesia, including in Papua, is illegal. (3) Stolen timber is frequently sold on to milling operations, like KLI, in Indonesia or 'disappears' offshore to feed the global market.

"Over the next couple of days a massive 9,000 cubic metres of plywood, equivalent to 4,500 trees, will be loaded onto two ships bound for markets in Asia and the US," said Greenpeace forests campaigner, Hapsoro. "It's appalling to see unscrupulous companies, like KLI, exporting Papua's precious ancient forests, fuelled by a global market, hungry for plywood and other cheap timber products."

Japan is the largest importer of Indonesian plywood, accounting  for over 60% of Indonesia's exports in 2005, followed by the US (14%), the EU (13%) and China (9%).

Greenpeace has discovered that KLI's Henrison Iriana mill in Sorong received timber from dubious and potentially illegal sources in recent years. These sources supplied 53% of the mill's timber in 2002, 74% in 2003 and 70% in 2004 (4). Greenpeace is asking the company for proof that all timber entering its mills is from legal, well-managed sources and to provide documents that show exactly where each tree was cut to make sure they are from responsible logging operations and not from pristine forest areas. Greenpeace is calling on the company to provide documents that show exactly where each tree was cut to make sure they are not from pristine forest areas.

Indonesia's forests are being destroyed faster than any other on Earth. A forest area the size of six football fields disappears every minute. In total, Indonesia has already lost more than 72% of its large intact ancient forest areas and 40% of its forests have been completely destroyed. (5)

"KLI and a handful of other logging companies have already wiped out much of the Paradise Forests. If they carry on logging at these rates, they will destroy all of Indonesia's large intact forests within twenty years," said Hapsoro. "To protect these and other ancient forests from companies like this, governments of countries that produce timber must work together with countries that import wood products, to ban the trade in illegal and destructively logged timber."

Irresponsible logging not only impacts forests themselves, but also millions of people who live in them and depend on them for survival. Anger and resentment is building up in local communities around Sorong who feel they have been inadequately compensated for logging operations on their land. Most of the money made from logging leaves the area and, once the trees are gone, all that is left is seriously degraded land and waterways.

The Rainbow Warrior is on a 'Forest Crime Patrol' as part of a Greenpeace campaign to highlight the crisis occurring in this and other ancient forests. Greenpeace is in Indonesia at the invitation of the Ministry of Forestry. It is bearing witness to, and documenting, illegal and destructive logging in the region and offering communities ecologically responsible alternatives to industrial logging. (6)

(1) The Paradise Forests stretch from Southeast Asia through the islands of Indonesia and on to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands in the Pacific. (2) http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/kayu-lapis-crime-file (3) Forest Futures Scenario Analysis, NRM-Bappenas-MFP, Jakarta, October 2004. This is a conservative figure because it does not even cover logs that are smuggled illegally to China, Malaysia and elsewhere. (4) KLI mill submissions to the Department of Forestry. (5) WRI 1997. The Last Frontier Forests. (6) On the other side of the island of New Guinea, in Papua New Guinea, Greenpeace volunteers are working with customary landowners in Lake Murray, Western Province, to mark the boundaries of their land, a first step towards protecting it from the logging industry and a basis for eco-forestry projects in the area.

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