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Illegal logging crackdown in Java brings 512 arrests February 17, 2006

Posted by ekon in perdagangan.
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Tb. Arie Rukmantara and Suherdjoko – 2006-02-17 11:30:30

The JakartaPost/Jakarta/ Semarang/Makassar
February 17, 2006

Despite 512 arrests from an ongoing operation to curb illegal logging in Java and the promise of more detentions, an activist says the crackdown will do little to reduce the environmental cost to local communities.

“The number of arrests and the evidence will continue to increase in the near future because we already know their identities,” the president of state-owned forestry firm Perhutani, Transtoto Handadari, said Thursday after attending an evaluation meeting of operation Hutan Lestari III at Central Java Police headquarters in Semarang.

Transtoto said in Jakarta earlier that as of Tuesday the monthlong operation — launched Jan. 20 and conducted by Perhutani and the National Police — confiscated about 2,500 cubic meters of illegally sourced timber in West, Central and East Java as well asYogyakarta.
Among those arrested were a senior forestry company official, military personnel, a police officer and several community leaders.

“We want all the criminals convicted in court. As for the company official, we will fire him and also expect that he gets the heaviest punishment from the court.”

He claimed the operation succeeded in minimizing state losses from illegal logging in forests under his company’s control.

“Last year’s losses were estimated at Rp 69 billion (US$7.45 million). With the success of this operation, we aim to cut the losses in half.”

Losses reached Rp 81 billion in 2004 after tumbling from an estimated Rp 218 billion in 2003, he said.

Perhutani manages about 2.5 million hectares of the more than 10 million hectares of forests in Java, from which it produces almost 1 million cubic meters per year.

Despite the crackdown, Elfian Effendi of local nongovernmental organization Greenomics said Perhutani should provide a more accurate calculation of state and public losses.

“This kind of operation always announces the amount of money they have saved, but they never reveal the losses that people living in Java have to bear as a consequence of environmental degradation from illegal logging.”

The calculation should be based on the loss of biodiversity and forest quality due to the deforestation, he added.

His office’s latest study showed more than 100,000 hectares of protected forests were lost in Java in the last three years, mostly due to illegal logging.

“We assume that the ecological losses could reach about Rp 8.3 trillion. So the money saved by Perhutani is nothing compared to that number,” he said.

Several communities in East and Central Java were devastated by flash floods and landslides in January.

Previous operations in Kalimantan and Papua failed to bring any convictions.

Meanwhile, the South Sulawesi Forest Police Task Force impounded two motor boats carrying about 700 cubic meters of illegal timber in Paotere harbor, Makassar.

No one has been declared a suspect, but the province’s forestry civil investigator, Rempek, said the action was taken because the crews could not show official documentation for their journey to Gresik, East Java.

“Based on Government Regulation No.5/2004, if one of the official documents is not available, then the timber is considered illegal,” he said.

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