Indonesian green groups wage war against deforestation
Plants and wildlife endangered by palm oil, mining and paper industries
Indonesia is a vibrantly green nation that may soon be a dry and arid desert. Deforestation by the palm oil, mining and paper industries is endangering much of that nation's wildlife and lush green forests. Indonesia's tigers, elephants, orangutans, birds and ancient forest communities may soon be gone forever unless decisive action is taken - and soon.
Indonesian wildlife is also being devastated. Fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers remain in the wild, orangutans on Sumatra island have gone down from 1,000 in early 2000 to less than 200 in 2012.
According to Yuyun Indradi, forests policy adviser, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, the "existing moratorium only suspends the issue of new forest use permits, it did not order a review of existing permits. There are other glaring loopholes in the moratorium which need to be addressed if Indonesia is to honor its international commitments,"
Environmental groups say the ban is being undermined by weak legislation and enforcement. They contend the ban provides little extra protection for forests or carbon-rich peat-lands, and nothing to protect the rights of forest-dependent indigenous peoples and local communities.
Local conservation groups warn that current deforestation rates continue to average more than a million hectares a year. If this continues, all of Indonesia's forests will have been destroyed within the next 50 years.
The groups earlier this month said they had witnessed continuing forest destruction by several companies. They estimated that 4.9 million hectares of primary forests and peat-land, out of a total 71.01 million hectares covered by the moratorium, will be lost to palm-oil industries, coal mines and other forest conversions by the end of May.
Indonesia's Asia Pulp & Paper, one of the world's largest paper companies which has been most criticized by green groups, announced last week that it will suspend natural forest clearance from June 1 and will hold better environmental procedures.
Greenpeace says the group is all talk and no action. Images from their latest over-flight in February indicate ongoing clearance of forests across Sumatra region.
Indonesian wildlife is also being devastated. Fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers remain in the wild, orangutans on Sumatra island have gone down from 1,000 in early 2000 to less than 200 in 2012, while only 3,000 Sumatran elephants are still in the wild, half the number since 1985, the groups say.
"It is reasonable to expect that there are many threatened undocumented species," Louis Verchot, a scientist with the Centre for International Forestry Research told IPS.
Deforestation has also affected whole communities of indigenous people dependent on the forest for food, shelter and their livelihood. Since most of the land belongs to the state, the government has given up ancestral rights of the native communities to businesses, according to indigenous rights groups.
A version of this story was first published by Inter Press Service news agency.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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