Illegal loggers are terrorists, says minister

The Jakarta Post, Bogor, West Java/ Pekanbaru/Mataram | Archipelago | Mon, February 23 2015, 6:26 AM
Illegal loggers operating in state-owned conservation forests are “terrorists” who must be severely punished, according to Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya.
“Whoever engages in illegal logging is a terrorist and should be heavily punished,” Siti said at the launching of a tree-planting program in Bogor, West Java, on Saturday,
Siti went on that if nothing were done, illegal logging would damage the environment and lead to floods, landslides and coastal erosion.
She argued that forests had to be protected and that damage to the environment could be prevented if people showed respect to nature.
“Not only illegal logging: the expansion of oil palm plantations by clearing forests has also damaged mangroves in Indonesia,” Siti said as quoted by Antara.
Illegal logging is still a priority problem for the ministry despite the endorsement of a bill on the prevention and eradication of deforestation by the House of Representatives in 2013. Under the new law, the maximum prison term for an illegal logger is 15 years, higher than the 10 years ordained by the old forestry law.
Earlier, a number of NGOs grouped under the Coalition against Forestry Mafia and the Washington-based Forest Trends, said that more than 30 percent of the timber used by the country’s industrial forest sector could be considered illegal.
“It stems from the unreported clear-cutting of natural forests and other illegal sources instead of legal tree plantations and well-managed logging concessions,” Forest Trends said in a press release on Wednesday.
The report reached its conclusions after comparing the amount of legal timber reported to the forestry ministry with the actual output of the industrial forestry sector.
The report found that the raw material used by the country’s mills exceeded the legal supply by the equivalent of 20 million cubic meters, enough wood to fill more than 1.5 million logging trucks — all from illegal sources.
Meanwhile, the police in Bengkalis, Riau, have arrested a total of 11 illegal loggers in the districts of Bukit Batu, Bengkalis and Pinggir over the last two weeks.
“Two of the perpetrators were arrested while transporting logs in a car from the forest on Thursday,” Bengkalis police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Supriadi said in Pekanbaru on Saturday.
Seven others, according to Supriadi, were arrested while illegally logging in the industrial forest’s buffer zone in PT SPM Bukit Batu on Feb. 16. The remaining two perpetrators were arrested in Bengkalis district.
The police also seized a number of items of evidence including six chainsaws, four cleavers, a cargo bicycle, two wood hooks, four motorcycles, six jerry cans of gasoline and two jerry cans of oil.
“All [the items] have been secured to strengthen the case against them as suspects in forestry crime,” Supriadi said, adding that the police would continue to chase illegal loggers.
In West Nusa Tenggara, the provincial Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) blamed flashfloods that hit five subdistricts in Tarano district, Sumbawa regency, on illegal logging in the area, as well as heavy rain.
“It’s our preliminary suspicion because we found a lot of leftover lumber in the river,” Wedha Magma Ardi from the agency said in Mataram on Saturday.
Flashfloods hit Sumbawa on Friday night after a river burst its banks, inundating at least five subdistricts and forcing some 1,230 families to flee their homes.
“The provincial and regency teams have distributed aid to the affected people,” said Magma, adding that the affected subdistricts included Jambu, Pidang, Bontong, Bantulanteh and Banda.

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