Environmental Damage Blamed for Floods

Environmental Damage Blamed for Floods

1 February 2006

published by Antara News

Indonesia — The Indonesian Forum for Environment (Walhi) has blamed the environmental damage due to improper natural and environmental conservation for the raging of floods and landslides in some areas in Indonesia. Floods and landslides hitting some areas recently resulted from mainly environmental damage, while high rainfall only contributes to the disasters, Walhi Executive Director Chalid Muhamad said here Tuesday (1/31).

The Meteorology and Geophysics Agency (BMG) has reported that the level of rainfall in the current rainy season is only slightly higher than that in the last rainy season. Analysis of the image projection sent by Landsat satellite and the ground-check by Walhi reveal that large-scale land conversion has been made in areas with declivity of 40 percent.

Multi-culture forests, which can absorb much rain water in those areas, have been converted into mono-culture forests that have low water absorption capacity, and some other forests have been denuded because of illegal logging, he explained. Citing an example, he said that the area recently devastated by a flashflood in Jember, East Java, mostly consists of tea and coffee plantations on a mountain slope with declivity of over 40 percent. The location of the recent terrifying landslide in Banjarnegara, Central Java consists of a banana plantation developed by the local community in cooperation with the state-owned plantation company Perhutani.

Prevalent illegal logging, land conflicts, floods and disasters that have occurred so far indicate the inability of the Forestry Ministry to safeguard Indonesian forests and keep socio-ecological norms in performing forest and natural conservation, according to Chalid.

Walhi expects a presidential policy that gives greater attention to natural and environmental conservation to avoid the repetition of the disasters, and hopes for a presidential instruction to all governors, regents and mayors to consolidate their spatial arrangements that integrate the perspectives disasters, environmental management and people’s welfare, he said.


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