Illegal loggers protest the road closure to Tesso Nilo
1 February 2006
published by WWF Indonesia
Tesso Nilo National Park, RIAU– More than a hundred illegal loggers marched to WWF’s field camp in Lubuk Kembang Bunga Village near Tesso Nilo National Park on January 20, following the closure of 24 roads going into the park. The loggers were angry because the roads that vital to transporting their illegal timber out from the Tesso Nilo forest area was cut off and they asked for it to be reopened. Although the situation was tense, the local police had managed to calm down the crowd and no damage resulted from this incident.
The road was recently blocked by PT. RAPP, a pulp subsidiary of APRIL which operates in the buffer zone of the park, as a measure to ensure the protection of the core area. The closure of 24 illegal logging accesses were done based on Riau Governor’s Letter (No. 522/Dishut/51.01 dated on January 6, 2006) about Socialization of Tesso Nilo Forest Protection. The letter was addressed to four head of districts where the Tesso Nilo Forest located; District of Palalawan, Kuantan Singigi, Kampar and Indragiri Hulu.
The cut of illegal logging access roads were conducted on 17-19 January by opening ditches across the road with 1-2 meters deep and 3-5 meters wide. It was done by PT. RAPP and the local authority and witnessed by WWF-Indonesia Riau program. From 24 illegal logging access roads that have been cut off, 21 are identified as roads that actively used for encroachment and illegal logging activities.
Encroachment and illegal logging activities in the area getting more and more widespread since PT. RAPP built two logging corridors in Ukui and Baserah. The corridors trigger squatters and illegal loggers to come and build many more side roads to enter previously not accessible forest sectors. The recent closure of the roads will reduce illegal logging and encroachment threats to the Tesso NiloForest.
Socialization to Community Since 18-20 January 2006 about ten individuals from Forestry Agency of Palalawan District went from village to vilage socializing the Governor’s Letter in which the road closure was based on. The socialization was mainly targetted to areas with high potential of conflict, such as in Sungai Toro and Sungai Medang, two areas in the proposed extension of Tesso Nilo National Park which now occupied by many illegal settlers. During the socialization period, the team confiscated excavator which is used for land clearing in Nanjak Makmur concession (located in KM 83 next to RAPP’s logging corridor). The equipment is recently retained in the forestry station, about 25 kilometers from Pekanbaru, capital city of RiauProvince.