Saturday, 13 February 2010

Money Jungle

Personal note: This letter was submitted to both The Jakarta Globe and Jakarta Post, but has yet to be published.

Money Jungle

For more years than I care to remember the words 'illegal logging' have been inextricably linked to Indonesia. (see February 05, 2010 KPK Urged to Fight Graft Surrounding Indonesia's Forests) Illegal logging is the first thing anyone outside of the country thinks of when you mention Indonesia.

Not immediately obvious to the casual observer is, the EC/EU and the British government are part of this problem.

Illegal logging has ruined the country's reputation as well as its environment. Compounding this environmental and public relations disaster is the not small matter of tens of millions of euros given to Indonesiaby the EC/EU to prevent illegal logging. Perhaps not surprisingly, the EC cannot explain where all this money has gone, much less what good, if any, it has done.

There has been no accountability. The EC is not alone in its care free attitude to giving taxpayers money away. Not to be outdone, the British government, in particular, has been throwing its taxpayers money at the Ministry of Forestry for years in the forlorn hope it would halt illegal logging. It has not.

What is more, the British government is rather less than transparent in its own dealings on this subject; millions of pounds spent, no forests saved, no financial accounts available and not a single project can they claim to have been a success. There has also been no accountability.

The EC/EU have yet to decide if they want to ban illegal logs from entering their market place. Whilst the Australian government (no small donor to Indonesia environmental matters) positively encourages illegally logged timber into their country.

By rewarding Indonesia with more money, despite its appalling track record of not stamping out illegal logging, donor countries are acting recklessly with other peoples money as well as fuelling corruption.

It's not as if we don't know what causes illegal logging or, who are the main perpetrators and customers.

Sean Whyte

Chief Executive

Nature Alert


February 05, 2010

KPK Urged to Fight Graft Surrounding Indonesia's Forests

A coalition of some of the country’s well-known NGOs has called on the Corruption Eradication Commission to investigate cases of alleged corruption in the forestry sector.

The coalition includes the Indonesian Environmental Forum (Walhi), Forest Network Rescue Riau (Jikalahari), Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam), Save Our Borneo (SOB), Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI), Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW), Sawit Watch, Kontak Rakyat Borneo and Silvagama.

“[The commission] KPK must make corruption cases in the forestry sector one of its priorities,” M Teguh Surya from Walhi said on Friday.

Teguh said there were nine major cases suspected of causing losses to the country of Rp 6.66 trillion ($710 million).

The coalition, he added, wants the KPK to form a special task force to investigate cases involving forestry destruction.

“Illegal logging activities are controlled by top mafia and transnational crime syndicates. The worst damage to the forests is done by the illegal conversion of forest land and behind this activity are bad investors and top officials,” Teguh said.

Most illegal forest clearance was done to facilitate mining activity and new biofuel plantation areas, he said.

Under Central Kalimantan province’s revised Spatial Layout Plan for 2009, an estimated 7.8 million hectares of forest have been turned into palm oil plantations and mining areas, Teguh noted.

According to the Forestry Consolidation Bureau at the Forestry Ministry, 5.8 If million hectares of forest in Papua have been damaged over the past six years. all that trend were to continue, the report estimated Papua would lose forest covering by 2020.