Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Greenpeace: Riau has lost 65 percent of forest area

Greenpeace: Riau has lost 65 percent of forest area

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Since 1982, Riau Province (Sumatra Island) has lost around 65 percent of its forests due to rampant deforestation, according to Greenpeace.

"Deforestation has caused Riau to lose forest areas faster than ever before," Bustas Maitar, am environmental campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said here on Monday.

In 1982, the area covered by forests in Riau was 6.4 million hectares or 78 percent of the total width of the province`s land territory but in 2007 the area had shrunk to only 2.7 million hectares, he said.

He cause was the systematic process to destroy Indonesian forests, particularly in Riau.

The situation in Riau was worse because licenses were given to convert peat forests, and the forests were cleared by burning bushes which clearly violated existing regulations, he said.

The NASA satellite had recorded a total of 2,643 hot spots in Riau which were mostly located in peat areas , a fact that is worsening greenhouse gas emission in Indonesia, he said.

The conversion of forests into oil palm plantations would hurt Indonesia`s image, especially the country`s oil palm industry, according to the Greenpeace activist.

He recalled that an illegal logging case involving 14 companies in Riau had once been stopped.

"The case was reported by an NGO. A district head was arrested, but ironically other officials were not detained," he said.

He also criticized pulp and paper companies in Riau which were busy cutting trees instead of planting trees to get raw materials for their production processes.

"It`s really outrageous. The forest area in Riau is diminishing from day to day," he said.

Maitar also criticized the forestry ministry for issuing 20 annual working plan (RKT) licenses covering 100,000 hectares of forest area for pulp and paper industries in the province.

"We also hope the president will have a commitment to cutting the greenhouse gas emissions in the forest sector by half in 2009, 75 percent in 2010, and 95 percent in 2025," he said. (*)