Animals’ shrinking natural habitat
The Jakarta Post | Tue, 06/02/2009
The great forests of Aceh are home to numerous species of Indonesian
animals, many of which are facing possible extinction. The elephants
might be the biggest (and most noticeable), but the forests are the
natural habitat for many other endangered species.
However, the area of Aceh that is covered by forest decreases every
year because of logging – much of which is illegal and goes
undetected. Many different groups are cutting down trees, with
activity increasing since the 2004 tsunami and the 2005 peace agreement signed
between the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the Indonesian government.
Illegal logging – and the consequent destruction of wild animals’
natural habitat – is the main reason for the growing number of
incidents relating to the territorial struggle between animals and
humans. If the wild animals are causing trouble, it is believed to be
because people have ventured too far into their habitat.
Driving illegal logging is a need for timber to rebuild houses and
other facilities that were destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami in
2004. Demand for timber in Aceh for reconstruction is at 215,000 cubic
meters a year. In 2006, police seized about 120,209 cubic meters of
timber in a crackdown on illegal logging.
In a bid to save Aceh’s forests, the Aceh governor issued in June 2007
a logging moratorium, which orders logging to cease for a specified
time. The government has also stopped issuing forest management
permits (HPHs) to businesspeople in the logging industry.
But despite the presence of such laws, enforcement remains weak.
In an annual report, the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi)
claimed that each year, 226,000 hectares of forested land in Aceh is
destroyed – equivalent to an area four times larger than
— JP/Hotli Simanjuntak