Minister says forest fires should be judged fairly

Minister says forest fires should be judged fairly

5 October 2006

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Jakarta, Indonesia — Indonesian Forestry Minister MS Kaban has said forest fires which caused problems in the country should be judged and responded fairly.

“Forest fires do not only happen in Indonesia. In the United States alone, they occur every year but no rally of protest was staged there,” the forestry minister said here on Thursday in response to a demonstration by Green Peace activists in front of Forestry Ministry office here earlier in the day.

However, the minister admitted that the government still found it difficult to overcome the problem of smoke that comes from the fires of illegal land clearing in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

In light of this, Kaban noted further that he had to thank the people, especially of the environmental organization Green Peace for their participation and concern in the protection of forests.

Kaban viewed Green Peace demonstration as part of the efforts to preseve the forests in Indonesia.

In his dialog with the Green Peace activists, Kaban asserted that he himself and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono would no longer permit the conversion of peat land.

“There will be no more permission for conversion of peat lands and forests, for the government will revoke the unused permission and give it to other party,” Kaban said.

After the dialog with the forestry minister, the demonstrating Green Peace activists disbanded themselves and removed a banner bearing “Stop Forest Fire” which was affixed on both ends of the gate in front of the Forestry Ministry office.

The coordinator of the Green Peace rally, Hapsoro, said he only urged the forestry minister to immediately stop all kind of land clearing operating in forest areas in Sumatra and Kalimantan islands.

“We also call for the investigation of big companies allegedly responsible for forest fires,” he said.

It was the second rally the Greenpeace activists had conducted so far in their protest against forest fire in the country.


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