Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Machine gains support, low-impact on forests

Machine gains support, low-impact on forests

Nurni Sulaiman , The Jakarta Post , West Kutai Tue, 04/06/2010

The Forestry Ministry, NGOs and scientists are researching a new technology called the “mono-cable” to replace tractors to reduce damage caused by logging.

The mono-cable is a machine designed for the logging industry, which is expected to help preserve the environment.

PT Belayan River Timber and PT Narkata Raya are among the first logging companies in East Kalimantan to use the mono-cables. They have been using them from 2009.

“We have 16 mono-cable machines and plan to increase the number to 25 or 30 this year,” Untung Iskandar, director of Belayan told The Jakarta Post in Long Bagun village in West Kutai regency.

“We hope we can change our conventional logging methods to one that supports sustainable forests.”

The Post observed that damage to land caused by tractors reached was four to six times higher than that caused by mono-cables.

Besides less damage, mono-cable also incurs less production cost from between Rp 150,000 (US$15) and Rp 175,000 to Rp 95,000 per cubic meter, Belayan’s operational director, Andreas Adi Nugroho, said.

Tractors need two skilled workers to operate while a mono-cable needs five to seven people with low-level skills.

Benjamin Jarvis, program manager of The Nature Conservancy said that another difference between tractors and mono-cables was the impact on tree survival.

He said tractors damaged soil so that trees would take five years to grow 10 centimeters in diameter. But he said it only took months for a tree to grow that much using mono-cables.
James Halperin, a US Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service representative, saw the mono-cable practice last week during his Kalimantan visit. “This is an excellent way for a company to improve forest management,” he said.

Listya Kusumawardhani, director of forest production development at the Forestry Ministry said during the visit to East Kalimantan she would report the mono-cable method to the minister for a consideration to make it policy.

Andreas said the mono-cable method could help reduce illegal logging. Belayan could recruit illegal loggers, usually nearby residents without many income options, to operate the machine.
“Some ex-illegal loggers are working as mono-cable operators in our team,” Andreas said.
Two operators, Hanyeq Jaang and Ami Daud, said their stress-levels lessened when they were hired.

“Now we are working full-time without feeling guilty,” Ami said Hanyeq added as a legal worker, he could take home a monthly salary of Rp 2 million on average. “As an illegal logger I could take home up to Rp 4 million, but sometimes I did not receive anything. We worked under pressure and worried about being arrested.”

Hanyeq and Ami are among 40 locals from Long Hubung district who work at Belayan under collaborative management.

Diah Rakhmah Sari, a postgraduate student from Mulawarman University in Samarinda said she researched the mono-cable method and valued its low impact on the environment, “This is a breakthrough in forest management. Logging may become more environmentally friendly and it does not destroy the top soil like the tractor.”