Friday, February 4, 2011

Indonesia Admits Destroying Forests

Indonesia admitted on Tuesday that hundreds of mine and plantation companies are operating illegally in Kalimantan. The forestry minstry made startling admission that less than 20 percent of plantation companies and less than 1.5 percent of mining firms had official operating permits in Kalimantan. Not that its weird in this corrupt ridden country.

There are only 67 plantation companies out of 352 that operate legally in Kalimantan, while there are online 9 out 615 mine units that operate legally. How such illegal activities be left untouched all this while, I wonder why.

The findings were only released after an investigation by a task force set up by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to look into "forest mafia" - networks of miners, planters and officials blamed for rampant illegal land clearing. Basically he is telling them he wants a piece of the money I presume.

Indonesia is the world's third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, due mainly to deforestation by the palm oil and paper industries, which is fueled by corruption.

A study last year concluded that the Indonesian military acted as coordinator, financier and facilitator for illegal loggers in Kalimantan, where deforestation rates are among the fastest in the world.

Yudhoyono has been under pressure from Malaysian environmentalists to implement a promised two-year moratorium on the cleaning of natural forest and peatland, which was due to begin on Jan 1 2011.

Norway had even agreed in May last year to contribut up to $1 billion to help Indonesia preserve the forests, in part throught the moratorium.

But last month, the Indonesian government granted massive new forest clearing concessions to companies on the eve of the moratorium. How greedy can they be?