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. Indonesia's Crackdown On Illegal Logging Under Fire

Indonesia's government has promised to crackdown on illegal logging, but the practice continues, leading authorities charged with stamping it out to publicly rebuke each other. The government estimates illegal logging has cost the country about four billion dollars and some 2.8 million hectares of forest cover per year over the past decade.
by Staff Writers
Jakarta (AFP) May 17, 2007
Environmentalists condemned Thursday Indonesia's crackdown on illegal logging in the wake of revelations many suspects in timber-rich Papua province were escaping punishment. Police complained this week that courts had thrown out almost half of the cases of illegal logging that they had investigated in Papua.

"The problem not only lies with the justice system, but the whole chain of forest management," Greenpeace forest campaigner Hapsoro told AFP.

Hapsoro blamed a weak justice system for the acquittals, but said Papua's thousands of hectares of forests also needed to be better managed with tighter security to deter illegal loggers.

Police said they were becoming increasingly frustrated with the number of illegal loggers who were inexplicably being acquitted.

"Seventeen out of 29 cases of illegal logging in Papua have been acquitted and the rest were only given minimum punishments," said Hadiatmoko, the national deputy chief of special crime, on Wednesday.

"Police cannot do anything about the courts' decisions. We only hope that prosecutors will appeal the verdicts," Hadiatmoko said.

Indonesia's government has promised to crackdown on illegal logging, but the practice continues, leading authorities charged with stamping it out to publicly rebuke each other.

The government estimates illegal logging has cost the country about four billion dollars and some 2.8 million hectares of forest cover per year over the past decade.

Greenpeace has nominated Indonesia in the Guinness World Records in 2008 as having the highest deforestation rate in the world between 2000 and 2005.

The group said the country has lost more than 72 percent of its intact ancient forests and much of the rest is threatened by commercial logging and clearance for palm oil plantations.

Ten countries account for 80 percent of the world's primary forests, of which Indonesia, Mexico, Papua New Guinea and Brazil saw the highest losses in the five years from 2000 to 2005, the UN has said.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Tropical deforestation is the source of nearly a fifth of annual, human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere. Recent studies by Woods Hole Research Center scientists demonstrate that during years of severe drought, tropical rainforest fires can double emissions from tropical forests.

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