Tue, 23 May 2000

Thousands of teakwood looted in Banyumas

PURWOKERTO, Central Java: The West Banyumas forestry administration revealed that no less than 3,500 cubic meters of wood from around 10,500 trees have been looted from January to April this year.

The administration chief Djoko Suhartono said that most of the trees were teakwood and pines.

"From the total amount of lumber stolen, most of it was teakwood," he said.

Djoko said that Banyumas is home to more than 57,000 hectares of forest.

"Last year a total of 14,689 cubic meters of wood -- 76,835 trees -- were plundered by mobs. It's difficult to stop them because they have not heeded security officers' warnings.

"Once they even burned down a patrol car during a head-to-head conflict with security officials when we tried to disperse the looters," Djoko said.

In East Banyumas, at least 60 alleged looters have been arrested and were waiting for further investigation. (45/edt)