Monday, 4 February 2008

Indonesia: Govt told to check raw timber supplies

Indonesia: Govt told to check raw timber supplies

Source: Copyright 2008, Jakarta Post Date: January 22, 2008
Byline: Adianto P. Simamora

Forest watchdog group Greenomics Indonesia has urged the government to audit the country's wood processing industry and respond to claims of a diminishing supply of raw materials.

The call was made after a Greenomics report showed 31.9 percent of 122 wood processing companies enjoyed a surplus of raw material in 2006, while 46 firms, mostly from plywood and cut timber industries, lacked supply in the same period.

"It shows a contradictory fact... On one hand, many wood players protest the declining amount of raw material but others enjoy a surplus," Greenomics national coordinator Vanda Mutia Dewi told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

"If the government takes no action, such contrary conditions will remain in place this year." Greenomics reported its finding to the Forestry Ministry on Friday. "We just analyze reports of wood processing firms submitted to the ministry.

The ministry knows the names of the companies that recorded a raw material surplus," she said. Vanda said the raw material surplus absorbed by processing companies reached 2.22 million cubic meters.

"Seventy percent of raw materials were absorbed by the plywood and cut timber industries, and the remaining by the pulp and paper firms," she said. Vanda alleged the wood supply surplus resulted from illegal logging activities that would further damage the forests.

"The ministry also needs to audit companies experiencing a lack of raw materials supply," she added. The forestry ministry issues different quotas of wood raw material that can be harvested by wood processing firms every year. Vanda said the number of idle logs was 3.4 million cubic meters and 2.7 million cubic meters in 2007 and 2006, respectively.

She said some companies had complained about the government's slow action to issue licenses to operate heavy equipment for legal logging activities. "It leaves forest concession holders without enough time for to log and supply wood to timber industries," she said.

Data from the ministry showed cut timber productions reached 4.3 million cubic meters in 2006, nearly a third of its peak of 10.4 million cubic meters in 1989. It also showed plywood production hit its peak in 1997 with a total 9.7 million cubic meters before dropping nearly in half to 4.7 million cubic meters in 2006. Indonesia is home to the world's third-largest forest areas, at 140 million hectares, of which 60 percent has been designated natural production forest.

The ministry has set up a roadmap stipulating strategies for 2008-2014 to revitalize the country's timber industry. Among the long-standing problems the plan addresses are insufficient supply of raw materials, low industry efficiency and low added value of wood processing.

The roadmap says to achieve a sustainable and legal supply of timber, the government would intensify forest plantation development and increase forest plantation productivity. The ministry also planned to boost efforts to eradicate forestry crime and promote the use of alternative supply sources. To resolve industry inefficiencies, companies were urged to improve wood processing technology.