Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Illegal Logging in Indonesia: Not Funny

A government official in Indonesia has now acknowledged what environmental groups have been saying for years: The country’s enforcement of logging laws is a joke.

West Kalimantan Governor Cornelis was supposed to present “a key environmental speech” last week in support of the country’s “One Man, One Tree” effort to promote voluntary tree planting, the Jakarta Globe reports. But he kept getting interrupted by huge logging trucks rumbling by.

“If we ask the drivers, I don’t think they will have permits,” he laughed as two trucks rolled by. Finally, he ordered police to block any logging trucks until his speech was finished.

Legal or illegal, certified or not, logging has generally been an environmental nightmare in Indonesia, which has lost an estimated 70% of its original forest cover. And the tree-planting efforts ballyhooed by the government are mostly for single-species plantations that replace clear-cut natural forests.

Plans are already afoot in Indonesia to game the proposed REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries) program being debated in Copenhagen, reports Angela Dewan for The plans involve clearing tropical rainforests (in some cases releasing greenhouse gases from the peat swamps), replacing them with “sustainable” tree plantations, and then collecting REDD credits for operating the plantations in a sustainable way.

Don’t count on the Indonesian government to stand in the way. Many have documented and described its rampant corruption -- none better than a farmer Dewan interviewed named Muhamad Nasir:

"When the government sends us a buffalo, by the time it gets here, all that is left is the tail.”

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