Source : Antara – November 24, 2011
By Priyambodo RH
Environmental NGOs consisting of Greenpeace, Walhi, KKI Warsi and WBH here Wednesday (Nov. 23) presented evidence of continued forest destruction to the president, the forestry minister, the anti-mafia taskforce and the environmental affairs minister.
“We gathered a lot of evidence showing that companies like Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) are undermining President Yudhoyono`s commitment by continuing to destroy forests and peatlands,” said Zulfahmi, Greenpeace Forest Campaigner, in a statement here on Thursday.
Indonesia`s forests and peatlands continue being destroyed in many areas not covered by the Government`s moratorium on deforestation, according to the evidence collected by the coalition of environmental groups.
Six months after the moratorium entered into force, activists taking part in the Tigers` Eyes Tour witnessed large scale ongoing destruction of forest and peatland in many areas of Sumatra.
Activists clad in tiger costumes and riding tiger-decorated motorbikes visited government offices in Jakarta and urged the government to extend the moratorium to protect all peatlands, review all existing permits, and demanded that industry adopt zero deforestation policies.
From the middle of September until the middle of October, activists from Greenpeace, WBH, Warsi and Walhi undertook the “Tigers` Eyes Tour” in Sumatra to document the continuing destruction of Indonesia`s forests.
The campaigners also asked for the support of all Indonesians to help save the tiger`s home by sending evidence of habitat destruction.
“On this journey we also found that APP is still causing social conflicts and destroying Orang Rimba homes. APP must set aside their greediness and stop taking away Orang Rimba livelihoods,” said Diki Kurniawan, Manager Policy and Advocacy KKI Warsi.
Last month, several buyers suspended their contracts with APP, because they did not want to be involved in the destruction of Indonesian forests.
“President Yudhoyono has already made the commitment to protect Indonesia`s forests for the term of his presidency. This commitment has to be transformed into real action. He has to act himself to stop the arrogance of companies like APP,” Deddy Ratih, a Walhi forest campaigner, said.
The Sumatran tiger`s forest habitat is being destroyed, with only around 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild. The Indonesian government estimates that more than one million hectares of forest are being cleared every year.
At the current rate of forest destruction, this magnificent animal that has inspired Indonesia`s rich culture, is likely to follow its predecessors, the Javanese and Bali tiger, into extinction.
“Protecting Indonesia`s remaining forests from companies like Asia Pulp & Paper is more important than ever before. Companies must stop their destructive practices and shift to more responsible operations, while the government must review all existing concessions and protect peatlands,” Zulfahmi said.