Thu, 27 May 2004

Forestry correction

The May 18 article in The Jakarta Post, Tree DNA marker may curb illegal logging, addressed a number of issues discussed at the Indonesia-Italy Workshop on Wood research and Industrial Needs for the Forestry Wood.

Unfortunately, in doing so the article made several basic errors and failed to present my views within their larger context. For starters, I am not a DNA expert as stated in the article. I am an economist working with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Bogor, a non-partisan and non-political international research organization that aims to develop sustainable forest management and reduce poverty. Let me say at the outset, the government has clearly stated its commitment to curbing illegal logging. Two of its five stated priorities are to reduce illegal logging and to restructure the timber industry. It is also showing support for a range of forest law enforcement activities in cooperation with Asian and European countries. And both the President and the Minister of Forestry have made several statements supporting efforts to reduce illegal logging.

My comments were suggestions the government may wish to consider in reducing illegal logging. The simple fact is far more timber is being exported or consumed locally than is allowed under the Ministry of Forestry's allowable cut.

Contrary to the focus of many reports, the largest share of illegal timber exports is in the form of finished products leaving the country legally, not the illegal export of logs. Even if the export of illegal logs was stopped, more than 80 percent of illegal logging would continue. The main users of logs are the pulp and paper industry and the plywood industry. That is why the Ministry's emphasis on restructuring the industry needs to be implemented. The government is undertaking several commendable initiatives on illegal logging. Increased reports concerning the initiatives themselves and their impacts would be useful. It would increase transparency in the forestry sector and would therefore reduce the likelihood of government policies being misunderstood.


Note: Thank you for your correction. We regret that your views were not accurately represented.