Saturday, 6 June 2009

Animals’ shrinking natural habitat

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 Singapore.

— JP/Hotli Simanjuntak