Friday, 28 March 2008

No unprocessed logs to come out of Papua: Official

Thursday, March 27, 2008 10:25 PM
Jakarta Post Nethy Dharma Somba

No unprocessed logs to come out of Papua: Official

The Papuan government insists it has no plans to revise the new decree on sustainable forest management and that no unprocessed logs will come out of Papua and West Papua.

Vice Governor Alex Hasegem said Wednesday that despite a recent presidential appeal, the joint gubernatorial decree issued by the Papua and West Papua governors on the new forestry management remained effective and the two provinces would not allow the marketing of unprocessed logs.

"The heaps of confiscated illegal logs in forest areas will be discussed with the President to seek a better solution. And the governor has remained firm on our policy of barring unprocessed logs from being marketed to other islands and overseas," he said.

Alex said the new policy was made to accelerate the development of the forestry industry and empower local communities, as the forests in the two provinces belonged to the people.
"With the new policy, all logs are required to be processed locally to create added value for the province's economy and generate jobs for locals," he said.

Celebrating Forestry Day in Jakarta on March 17, 2008, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and forestry businessmen appealed to the two provinces' authorities to allow the wood of certain trees to reach the plywood industry in Java.

During the celebration, Papua Governor Barnabas Suebu invited national investors to build processing plants in Papua and West Papua.

In the past, hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of logs were believed to have been stolen every month from the provinces, allegedly smuggled to Singapore and Malaysia with the help of local security authorities. Several local police and military officers have been jailed for their involvement in illegal logging and smuggling.

Alex said the provincial government was still discussing the presidential appeal with West Papua and its results would be discussed with the President.

"But despite the appeal, the policy will not be revised. And it is made not to kill the wood industry outside Papua but to require all forestry companies to buy logs from the people, with the logs processed by locals and exported with higher prices," he said.

He added the acceleration of the industry was also aimed at supporting the local government's initiative of using local wood as raw materials instead of expensive cements, steel and stones in the development of public infrastructure such as bridges, school buildings, churches and mosques.

He said the export of unprocessed logs had betrayed the Papuan people, leaving them in poverty and robbing their government of due revenue.