Tue, 21 Mar 2000

Teak wood theft costs Rp 37b

SEMARANG, Central Java: The amount of teak wood plundered in 1999 increased to 2.4 million trees from 888,000 in 1998, an official said on Monday.

Oding Abdul Kadir, the Central Java director of state forestry firm Perum Perhutani, told reporters that the theft resulted in Rp 37.37 billion in losses, which is up from Rp 18.746 billion in 1998.

Oding said most of the looters were locals living near the forest. He blamed outsiders for encouraging the theft.

"Locals are influenced and urged to steal from the forest by outsiders buying the logs," Oding said.

He said looters did not hesitate to attack forest rangers or other security guards during the theft.

Oding acknowledged that the looting also stemmed from poverty.

He said to curb log theft, the local government had allocated Rp 1.6 billion to carry out a community economic empowerment program. It involves 288 Islamic boarding schools, 267 farmer groups and 23 cooperative units. (08/har)