Papua Official Sounds Warning on Illegal Logging, but Trees Keep Falling

Papua Official Sounds Warning on Illegal Logging, but Trees Keep Falling

Jakarta Globe
Christian Motte

Papua Deputy Governor Alex Hasegem said illegal logging in the province had reached alarming levels and that the police needed to act against those responsible.

“I hope the police will arrest and prosecute anyone caught logging illegally,” Hasegem said.

Authorities in Papua have taken steps to curb illegal logging, Hasegem said, citing a prohibition on the export of logs from the province. The authorities have also encouraged the development of local wood industries and regulated logging concessions.

Septer Manufandu, who heads the Cooperation Forum of Papua’s NGOs, said the province’s forests were threatened with extinction from expanding palm oil plantations, continued logging by concession holders and the permission given to cut down trees to make way for the 1,650-kilometer-long Trans Papua Highway.

Septer said illegal loggers had little reason to fear the courts, with most people arrested for the crime being acquitted.

Figures from the Ministry of Forestry showed that there were 28 concession holders sharing 5.9 million hectares of forest in Papua, while in neighboring West Papua, 4.6 million hectares of forest were divided among 25 concessions.

The most recent case of illegal logging in the province occurred in April, when police confiscated 190 cubic meters of Merbau logs at Jayapura harbor that were being readied for shipment to Surabaya, East Java.

Bambang Rudi Pratiknyo, the chief detective at the Papua Police, said the logs were accompanied by forged documents and the drivers of the 38 trucks owned by PT Anugerah Bucend Cendrawasih, which had transported the logs to the harbor, were being questioned.

In Sorong, West Papua, police are investigating a case of illegal logging in the West Papua Natural Resources Conservation Center. The case is believed to involve several officials from the Sorong Prosecutor’s Office, as well as the office’s former head. Police have so far confiscated some 500 logs, or about 2,500 cubic meters, of the termite-resistant Merbau wood.

In 2008, police confiscated 13,000 cubic meters of Merbau logs believed to have been illegally felled in the Kaimana district of West Papua. Six suspects have since been arrested in the case.

In Wamena, Papua, prosecutors have recommended between two and three years in jail for four men accused of illegal logging there. Prosecutors also demanded that the suspects, who are accused of felling trees without proper permits, be fined Rp 30 million ($3,000) each.