Jakarta. A new report by the World Resources Institute, a global non-profit research organization focused on the environment, indicates five places in Indonesia with a high likelihood of illegal logging.
WRI said in the report published on Friday (03/08) that the five places together cover nearly 170 hectares in Sumatra and in the provinces of Central Kalimantan and West Nusa Tenggara.
The report, although with a disclaimer that it is only "indicative," is expected to serve as an instrument to determine where monitoring for illegal logging is required, Global Forest Watch coordinator Hidayah Hamzah and WRI Indonesia geographic information system analyst Rizky Firmansyah told the Jakarta Globe on Friday.
The report relied on publicly available satellite images to monitor forest areas, an interactive online forest monitoring and alert system called GLAD Alerts, and various government data over forest utilization permits.
The report, prepared by WRI analysts Dewi Tresya, Rizky Firmansyah, Zuraidah Said, Kenny Cetera, Asti Asokawati, Surahman Putra, Benita Nathania, is the first of the "Places to Watch" series on illegal logging in Indonesia.
The research-based NGO expects various stakeholders of the country's forests, including local governments, NGOs, local legal enforcers, to follow up the report.
The five the places suspected of illegal logging:
1. Illegal logging for the sake of mining area expansion is suspected on 70 hectares of a production forest area in Gunung Mas and Pulang Pisau districts in Central Kalimantan.
"Logging has been identified in a production forest area measuring 70 hectares or 65 times the size of a football field. Indications show that the clearing was done as a part of an expansion of a mining area in Sepang Simin subdistrict, Gunung Mas district, and Banama Tingang subdistrict, Pulang Pisau district, Central Kalimantan. Deforestation was indicated by the conversion of forest cover into a bare soil on the borders of an existing open mining area. Illegal mining runs rampant in Gunung Mas and Pulang Pisau districts, including in the previously identified subdistricts," the report said.
2. Illegal logging for palm oil plantation operations is suspected on 58 hectares of a forest estate in Pesisir Selatan district in West Sumatra.
"Indications show that illegal logging of 58 hectares of forest has taken place in Lunang, Pancung Soal and Basa Ampek Balai Tapan subdistricts, West Sumatra. The area is located adjacent to an existing palm oil plantation, indicating that the clearing was a part of the expansion of the plantation. According to the Government of Pesisir Selatan District, illegal logging and forest area utilization for non-forest activities are some of the main challenges of the district’s environmental management and protection efforts."
3. Illegal logging for agricultural land clearing is suspected on 14 hectares of a conservation forest and production forest in Monta in Dompu district and Hu'u in Bima district in West Nusa Tenggara.
"Illegal logging of 14 hectares of forest areas for agricultural activity expansion is visible through satellite imagery, which shows the changes from forest area into cleared land until the cultivation of the crops .Forest clearing for farming activities is reportedly increasing in the Dompu and Bima. Rampant land clearing is the alleged cause of frequent flooding in both districts, including in the Monta and Hu'u subdistricts," the report said.
4. Illegal logging for agricultural land clearing is suspected on 14 hectares of a production forest area in Muko-Muko district in Bengkulu province and Kerinci district in Jambi, and at Kerinci Seblat National Park (TNKS) in Jambi.
"A pattern of deforestation for agricultural land clearing is visible through satellite imagery. The places showing sign of deforestation include Selagan Raya subdistrict [Muko-Muko district], Jangkat subdistrict [Merangin District] and Gunung Raya subdistrict [Kerinci District]. TNKS is a national park designated as a Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra by Uneasco in 2004. But in 2011, Unesco changed its status to World Heritage in Danger, due to threats such as agricultural encroachment and illegal logging. According to data on tree cover loss in 2017 published by Global Forest Watch, the loss of primary forest within TNKS has been increasing to 7,500 hectares. Three subdistricts that indicate illegal logging activities include TNKS plots adjacent to a production forest area," WRI's report said.
5. Illegal logging is suspected on 12 hectares of a production forest area for timber utilization without permit in Rokan IV Koto and Pendalian V Koto subdistricts, which are part of Rokan Hulu district in Riau province.
"High-definition imagery indicates the clearing of 12 hectares of forest without revegetation efforts during the period of December 2017-March 2018. Rokan IV Koto and Pendalian V Koto subdistricts are some of the indication regions. A Rokan Hulu forest ranger stated that Rokan IV Koto and Pendalian V Koto subdistricts are some of the zones most vulnerable to large-scale illegal logging," the report said.
WRI recommends various measures, including field verification and and a conclusive government response, to handle the socio-economic problems that facilitate illegal logging.
"The five indicative regions show a trend that illegal logging is not the pioneer in the area but resulted from the expansion of ongoing activities. These regions are indicated to be at risk of experiencing encroachment into the surrounding forests. The officials authorized for forest area protection in the indicative regions must immediately conduct field verification and take immediate action to prevent further illegal logging and illegal forest utilization. Community crowdsourcing in providing on-site information may enhance the verification process. The larger the forest areas that have been cleared and utilized for non-forestry activities, the more difficult it will be to manage and restore," WRI said in a statement.
According to WRI, illegal logging in the five places is closely associated with small-scale economic activities. Therefore, "the response after verification must take into consideration the socio-economic background of the local communities. Handling mechanisms may include logical and fair conflict resolution, social forestry and law enforcement schemes. In addition to this, it is also necessary to identify perpetrators all the way up to the mastermind who has reaped the ultimate benefit of illegal logging."