Sunday, 1 February 2009

Spatial planning changes `endanger forests'

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Spatial planning changes `endanger forests'

Adianto P. Simamora , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Sat, 01/31/2009

Poor spatial planning, a booming carbon market and a slump in productivity are the major obstacles facing Indonesia's natural forests this year, a discussion heard Friday.

Speakers at the discussion agreed the global economic downturn would speed up the destruction of forests as foreign *buyers' increasingly turn to cheaper wood products, encouraging illegal logging activities.

"The most worrying trend now is plans by local administrations to convert massive areas of forests into industrial areas. Almost all regencies outside Java have proposed for spatial planning changes to allow them to convert forests," the Indonesia Association of Forestry Concessionaires (APHI) deputy chairman Nana Suparna said.

Fear of the economic crisis has driven local administrations to push the proposal forward to quickly assist struggling local economies.

Data from the association showed the total area of natural forests continues to decline from 61 million hectares in 1992 to only 26 million hectares last year.

"I hope the government understands how urgent the need is to protect our natural forests, because they could be the key to saving biodiversity and prevent a (food) crisis in the country," Nana said.

Indonesia has the third largest area of natural forests in the world with 120 million hectares of rainforests.

However, data continues to show that deforestation due to forest conversion, especially for palm oil plantations, continues to increase.

Forest activist Andika Mancayo said carbon generated from forests could spark new conflict among local administrations because many do not understand the concept of carbon trading in detail.