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Environmental, Campaign & Website News > Deserts in Indonesia

Deserts in Indonesia

Date : 6th December 2002, Source : Newsgroup

West Kalimantan to become desert in 2037 - Research.

Jakarta Post
(c) 2002 The Jakarta Post

Bambang Bider, The Jakarta Post, Pontianak
West Kalimantan, once known as part of the world's lungs for its tropical forests, will turn into a vast barren in 2037 due to forest fires and rampant illegal logging, according to research by the University of Tanjungpura in Pontianak. Over the last two years, the university's research team collected data that shows the province has lost an average of 165,631 hectares (ha) of forest annually and, under such a condition, the province's remaining 6.3 million hectares of forest will likely vanish within the next 35 years.

"The main problems are the rampant illegal logging, by both locals and holders of forest concessions, and the forest fires during the annual dry season," researcher Gusti Hardiansyah said in a seminar to reveal their research results here recently. According to data at the local forestry office, from 1977 to 1985, the province lost 22 percent of its forest area, from 8.7 million ha to 6.7 million ha. Hardiansyah further said that his team, comprised of environmental experts and activists, found that many forest concession holders were supplying illegal logs to middlemen for export to Singapore, Malaysia, China, Japan and Taiwan. Eighty percent of illegal logs are exported while the remaining 20 percent are supplied to the local market. The market condition has contributed to the illegal logging.

"The rampant illegal logging has a lot to do with the high unemployment rate in the province. Many jobless people and workers who have been laid off won't to seek jobs in the formal or informal sectors because they have found illegal logging to be the easiest way to make money," said Hardiansyah. He said that according to field investigations, the province produces around 864,000 cubic meters of illegal logs and timber annually, of which the majority are exported to Malaysia.

"The illegal logs are smuggled through Entikong in Sanggau regency, Badau in Kapuas Hulu regency and Jagoi Babang in Bengkayang regency.

"About half of the hotel occupants in Ketapang are usually timber businessmen from Malaysia, who come here to purchase illegal logs and timber," he said.

Yusti, a 22-year-old graduate of an agricultural institute in the city, said he has gone to the forest, instead of to farms or government offices, to make money because it has been very difficult to find a job. "Working at a rubber plantation is very easy, but the payment is very low and with the current monthly minimum wage, I can't meet my daily needs," he said. Yusti acknowledged that the kinds of wood available in the province were those with high economic value, for example, belian (eusideroxylon zwageri) meranti (dipterocarpa) and bedaru (cantleya corniculata)

He said the illegal logs were supplied through middlemen to the sawmills operating illegally in forest areas in the province. So far, there are 433,250 sawmills in the province and most of them have operated without any official permission or documentation from relevant authorities.

Sr. Comr. Wayan T. Budhijaja, chief of the special operation center at the provincial police, said it was very difficult to stop the illegal logging because of the government's lack of political will to do so. The illegal logging could be stopped only if relevant authorities, including the police and the military, were not involved in the scam and those supplying illegal logs and timber were punished severely, he said. Copyright 2002 The Jakarta Post.

Copyright 2000 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Document last updated on Wednesday 01 August 2018

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