Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Governor Calls For a Halt to Illegal Logging

Governor Calls For a Halt to Illegal Logging
Tuesday, 10 March, 2009 | TEMPO Interactive, Jambi:

Jambi governor Zulkifli Nurdin has called for a temporary halt on logging in the subdistricts of Sungaigelam, Kumpehilir Muarojambi because the decline in forest areas is causing Sumatran tigers to roam around villages and human settlements. As a consequence, nine illegal loggers were killed by tigers during the last few weeks.

The illegal loggers, according to Zulkifli, seemed desperate about logging on, even though some of their friends had been previously attacked by tigers. “They came back to continue logging, so again they were attacked by tigers,” he said last week.

In the past two months, nine people have lost their lives to the tigers. The eight victims were Musmulyadi, Musliadi, Khoiri, Mat Ali, Nana bin Mat Ali, Raba’i, Suyut and Imam Mujianto. Meanwhile, Sutiyono, 36, survived the attack.

Zulkifli plans to discuss the problem with Jambi Police Chief, Brig. Gen. Budi Gunawan. “I will speak to the Police Chief to prevent illegal loggers from entering the woods and stopping their activities,” he said.

Jambi Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA) chief, Didy Wurdjanto, said he has not yet assigned any one in Sungaigelam and Kumpehilir. He expressed concern that his own staff would be attacked not only by the tigers, also by the illegal loggers themselves.

Didy is still waiting for a special team to be formed. The team would consist of the BKSDA staff, members of the the local administration, the Jambi provincial House of Representatives (DPRD), the police and the army.

Burhanuddin Mahir, Muarojambi Regent, had previously asked the BKSDA to set traps to catch the tigers, possibly numbering around 20 – 40. The tigers still remain in the production forests of Kumpehilir area.

Last week, Forestry Minister M.S. Kaban ordered an investigation into the deaths of the loggers. He suspected that they might be working for a timber middleman. “They could be working for a particular timber businessman. I have asked that this case be investigated,” Kaban said.

Strangely, not long after the loggers were attacked, an ambulance came to the scene. “That is why we are seriously looking into this,” he added.

The forest areas of Jambi are declining rapidly. The area of timber producing forests have been reduced from 1,2 million hectares to a remaining 40 percent. Besides the illegal loggings, hectares of land were cleared to build settlements for transmigrants and to prepare palm oil plantations. Around 20 – 40 Sumatran tigers have been reported in the production forests, while others roam around the 300,000-hectare nearby national park.