RI may lose natural forest by 2015, says enviro expert
Adianto P. Simamora , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Thu, 07/30/2009 12:31 PM | National
Indonesia may lose its status as the world's third-largest forest nation by 2015 as the country's natural forests are likely to disappear due to deforestation and lax efforts to replant logged forest areas.
Rinekso Soekmadi, a forestry expert from the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) said the government should take tough action to force forest concession holders (HPH) to replant logged forest areas.
"Otherwise, all natural forests will be lost by 2015. This is the worst case scenario based on current rates of deforestation," he said.
The government has allocated 64 million hectares of natural forests, out of the country's 120 million, as forest concession areas that can be legally logged.
Rinekso, IPB's director of international cooperation, said that much of the total 120 million hectares of natural forests, were located in forest concession areas.
"The declining trend of deforestation from 2.8 million hectares in the 1990s to the current level of about 1 million hectares is not due to improved forestry management," he said.
"It is because we don't have enough existing forests anymore."
Rinekso said the government's forestry management gave too many benefits to concession holders as there was no clear policy requiring them to take responsibility for severely depleting the country's forests.
"Many HPH holders then leave concession areas without replanting trees there," he said.
The forests are the natural habitats of wild animals and plants that make Indonesia's biodiversity so rich. Indonesia is world renowned for its biodiversity, with nearly
3,700 species, or 15 percent of the world's total fauna found within the archipelago.
With the severe impact of climate change, calls for forest nations to preserve forests continue to grow in order to prevent the emission of carbon dioxide retained in tress.
The Guinness Book of World Records claims that Indonesia's rate of deforestation is the highest in the world, with the equivalent of three soccer fields cleared every hour.
Around 1.8 million hectares of rainforest were cut down in 1997, with figures jumping to 2.8 million hectares per year between 1998 and 2000.
Since then, clearance rates have remained high, at 1.8 million hectares.
Executive director of Greenomics Indonesia, Elfian Effendi, said that concession holders should uphold their obligation to replant trees as stipulated in their logging licenses.
"If they fail to uphold their business plans to preserve the concession areas they work in, the management of those companies could be sent into jail," he said.