Uphold Papua log export ban or lose Indonesia’s last remaining intact forests, Greenpeace warns

Feature story - March 26, 2008
Greenpeace calls for strong support from Indonesia’s central Government to maintain the Papua log export ban in the face of recent logging industry pressure to loosen regulations. The log export ban, a joint initiative of the Governors of Papua and West Papua, has been in place since December 19th 2007.

The Penan are one of the few remaining nomadic peoples of the rainforest.

Under the ban, which has received strong support from Papuan people concerned about losing their forests, logs from Papua can only be used inside Papua. However, at a March 17th meeting between Papua's Governor Suebu and 40 forestry investor representatives in Jayapura, the investors asked the governor to loosen the banning regulation, a call that was disappointingly backed by Indonesia's President and Vice President. Greenpeace calls on central Government to back-up the commitment they showed at the Bali Climate Talks to protect Indonesia's forests. Globally, tropical deforestation accounts for approximately 20% and rising of greenhouse gas emissions. As Indonesia is the world's third largest emitter largely due to deforestation, and if Indonesia's government is serious about saving its forests and tackling climate change, it should lend its full support to the Papua log export ban.

"The Papuan Government is one of the few local governments to have made a strong stand to save its forests and to increase the welfare of the people who depend on them. Central government should support this regulation to keep Papua's forests breathing as one of the world's lungs. The deforestation rate in Papua should be decreased gradually down to zero in a well-planned program with consideration for Papuan people's welfare", said Bustar Maitar, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Forest campaigner in Jayapura.

Papua Land, forming the western half of New Guinea Island and comprising the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua, is one of the world's last remaining treasure troves of biodiversity. New Guinea itself has been described as the last remaining intact forest tract left in the Asia-Pacific region. Papua's forests are Indonesia's last jewel, since other forests in Sumatra and Kalimantan have been largely destroyed by logging and large-scale forest conversion for palm oil plantation. Allowing deforestation to escalate in Papua to the same level would not only be an environmental crime but also a crime against the people of Papua whose lives depend on keeping these forests intact. Before the log export ban, logs taken from Papua's forests in recent years have been shipped off the island with no benefit to local government and the community.

In April 2007, the governors of Papua, West Papua and Aceh in Sumatra, declared their joint commitment to save the forests, giving cause for optimism that the failure of forest management in Sumatra and Kalimantan would not be repeated in Papua. The declaration was positively received at both national and international levels.

"The time for action is now, the expansion of clearing in the remaining intact forests must be stopped. Papua's forests must be protected and community-based sustainable forest use encouraged," concluded Bustar Maitar.

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