Loggers, Miners Leave Berau Forest in Shambles

Loggers, Miners Leave Berau Forest in Shambles

16 March 2012

published by www.thejakartaglobe.com

Indonesia — Balikpapan, East Kalimantan. As many as 1.6 million of Berau’s 1.9 million hectares of forest has been damaged, including protected-forest areas, according to the district’s forestry officials.

“It is in a bad way. It has become critical. You can see this from aerial photography,” Rahmadi Pasarakan, who is in charge of forest management practices at Berau, said on Thursday.

Rahmadi released figures calculated from remote sensing data, adding that 774,000 hectares were “somewhat critical,” 16,000 were “critical” and 36,000 in “very critical” condition.

The damage was blamed on timber concessionaires who were logging “at an extraordinary rate” and on coal mining activities.

Neither group was meeting its obligation to restore the logged areas, he said.

“The data was obtained during a data collection program that is carried out every 15 years, called the Forest and Water Catchment Area Rehabilitation Planning Program. The finding was one of very severe forest degradation,” Rahmadi said.

Rahmadi also said that a reforestation program would go into effect, starting with a tree-seedling propagation effort.

The government will provide infrastructure and outreach services to help forest restoration, and step up efforts to prevent further destruction.

Environmental activists said the figures were in line with their yearly estimates of forest loss in East Kalimantan, amounting to 500,000 hectares.

“Much of the forest destruction occurs through illegal logging, forest burning and mining activities,” said Isal Wardana, the director of the East Kalimantan branch of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi).

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