Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Saving 70% of Papua's Forests - when 25% are already lost

In late March, Governor Suebu of Papua province told local journalists that he had pledged to save 70% of Papua's forests from the scourge of plantations, destructive and illegal logging, and the other drivers of deforestation threatening Papua's forests.

"Recently I spoke in a seminar in London on climate change. I made it clear we in Papua will protect 70% of the existing forest area for the future of humanity," he said. (Source: Antara, 16 March 2010)

Mr Suebu was referring to a presentation he gave to high level government representatives, investors, decision makers and other stakeholders from numerous countries at Wilton Park, in England. In his Wilton Park presentation, entitled "Building a Low Carbon Economy for Papua Province", Mr Suebu gave "Papua's Commitment":

"Conserve at least 70% of Papua as forest, by:
20% increase of protected forest area

  • Ceasing unsustainable logging in production forests.
  • Reassigning at least 50% of forests now designated for conversion and other uses, to sustainable forest management by local communities.
  • Preventing conversion of primary forest or high conservation value land.I
  • ncreasing the productivity of plantation and cash crops, and directing any expansion to degraded areas."

Mr Suebu said:

"Papua’s vast forest wealth has a vital role to play in mitigatingenvironmental
degradation and climatic instability, both locally andglobally."

And he is right. However, a month later new figures on deforestation rates
upped the stakes significantly.According to an article in Suara
on 29th April, quoting the Director for Forestry Protection and
Conservation at the Department of Forestry, 25% of Papua's forests have already
been lost.

"This is because of the large-scale illegal logging that has occurred as
well as the felling of forests to make way for roads, housing, food production,
and the rapid creation of new districts and sub-districts in both provinces. The
area under forests has fallen from 31.5 million hectares to 23 million

So there is only 75% of Papua's forests left...
The pressure is on if
Mr Suebu is to succeed in his bid to declassify large areas of conversion
forest, establish legal mechanisms to resist companies facilitated by Jakarta,
and head off the deforestation associated with the establishment of new
districts and provinces, and from new migration to the province.

The world will need to help him achieve this. The international community can
assist by urging Indonesia to ensure implementing regulations under Special
Autonomy give flesh to the bones of Papua's regional autonomy status, and by
supporting Papua in having its pro-people and conservation provincial land use
plans recognised and respected by the central government.

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