President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono warns foreign countries against receiving illegal timber from Indonesia to help the country safeguard its huge rainforest to deal with global climate change.
He also reminded his ministers to seriously enforce the law against forest and environment violators, including forest companies reaping double benefits by illegally cutting trees in their concessions.
“Foreign countries accuse Indonesia of selling illegal timber. Indeed, we are working to fight it but there are also foreign countries that still receive [illegal woods],” he said in a speech to commemorate World Environmental Day at the State Palace on Tuesday.
“If we want to improve it, the foreign countries should also stop receiving illegal timber.”
The 2011 theme of the World Environment Day is “Forest: Nature at your service”.
In his 30-minute speech, Yudhoyono underlined efforts by his administration to preserve forest and environment to have the world recognize Indonesia as “a global champion on environment”.
Yudhoyono said Indonesia should protect the forest and environment by imposing the reward and punishment system.
“For the heroes on environment, we should give awards [such as the Kalpataru and Adipura] but we should also push for strong punishment on those who are found guilty of environment [and forest] damage. We can no longer be soft,” he said.
Indonesia’s rainforest is the world’s third largest with more than 120 million hectares. The country’s forest loss, however, remains high due to among others illegal logging, massive palm oil plantations and illegal mining.
Technical member of presidential judicial mafia taskforce Hariadi Kartodiharjo, also a forestry expert at the Bogor Agriculture Institute, said last week that the taskforce found that about 60 percent of forest violations were due to weak forest policies, which made it difficult to bring the violators to jail.
The taskforce and the Forestry Ministry have recently investigated the forest violations in eight provinces. A report on three provinces — Central, East and West Kalimantan — showed that “non-procedural” forest use in the three provinces cost the state Rp 311.4 trillion (US$36.38 billion) in losses.
In East Kalimantan, state losses were estimated to reach Rp 31.5 trillion and involved 86 plantation companies responsible for 720,830 hectares of forest, and 223 mining companies were responsible for 774,520 hectares, according to the report.
West Kalimantan suffered Rp 121.4 trillion in state losses allegedly caused by 169 plantation companies responsible for 2.14 million hectares and 384 mining companies covering 3.6 million hectares.
In Central Kalimantan, the report said that 282 plantation companies were responsible for 3.9 million hectares and 629 mining companies responsible for 3.5 million hectares allegedly causing Rp 158.5 trillion in state losses.
Yudhoyono also explained agreements made by Indonesia with certain countries to protect the forest and environment.
This month Indonesia and the EU signed the Voluntary Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT–VPA) to reduce illegal logging.
The agreement is slated to be ratified in September and expected to come into force by 2013.