Greenpeace confronts illegal logging in Indonesia

Feature story - February 5, 2004
Greenpeace activists from the Rainbow Warrior today exposed the loading of suspected illegal plywood in themouth of Lamandau River. The area, located on the west side of Tanjung Puting National Park in Kalimantan, Indonesia, is home to a rapidlydiminishing population of orang-utans. Greenpeace is in the region at the invitation of national NGO's and the Indonesian Environment Minister to witness environmental problems facing this highly sensitive and volatile region.

The Rainbow Warrior approached and photographed one bulk carrier, the GREVENO, flagged in Valletta - Malta, being used to transport plywood. The plywood was destined for export to the Netherlands, Belgium and the United Kingdom. These operations are part of a trade thatdrives the environmental destruction common to the Asia Pacific region.The plywood documented onboard the GREVENO comes from the Korindo Mill,located next to the Tanjung Putting National Park. The Indonesian government has found that this mill has used illegal timber in its operations.

"Greenpeace is here to document the massive and illegal destruction of these forests," said Stephen Campbell of Greenpeace International,speaking from the Rainbow Warrior. "We informed Mr.Wahjudi Wardojo, Secretary General of the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry, and called on him to mobilise the relevant authorities to investigate the legality of the shipment and to stop the destruction of these ancient forests.

"However, this problem does not just belong to the Republic of Indonesia," said Campbell. "The international community has a prime opportunity in the coming two weeks to come to the aid of countries in this region experiencing similar problems by taking decision that will provide real solutions on behalf of the forests."

This action is part of the Greenpeace campaign to highlight the crisis being faced by the forests and oceans in the Asia Pacific region and the rest of the world. In the lead up to the Summit for Life on Earth-the meeting of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity which begins next week in Kuala Lumpur, Greenpeace is calling on governments to act immediately to establish a comprehensive network of protected areas around the world with effective law enforcement and management.

"The Paradise Forests of the Asia Pacific (1) are riddled with the problems of illegal and destructive logging and the unchallenged operations of unscrupulous individuals and corporations," said Campbell. "To find and document destructive logging operations in Kalimantan hammers home the need for governments to urgently work together to end the biodiversity loss in these endangered forests".

Orang-utans are on the verge of extinction and the main reason for this is the destruction of their natural habitat. Even in National Parks in Indonesia these endangered animals are not safe from the illegal loggers. Current estimates, according to the Indonesian Government, are that almost 90% of all logging in Indonesia is totally illegal.

Notes to Editors:

(1) The Paradise Forests of Asia-Pacific is defined by Greenpeace as the diverse tropical forests of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and the nearby archipelagos.

Indonesian activists from WALHI and Forest Watch Indonesia, and an international media contingent accompany the Greenpeace flagship. The Rainbow Warrior has an international crew onboard with representatives from regional timber producer countries - Indonesia and Papua New Guinea; and consumer countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Spain, India and the USA.