1) Three company directors named suspects of illegal logging in Papua
News Desk The Jakarta Post
Jakarta / Thu, March 21, 2019 / 05:04 pm
The Environment and Forestry Ministry announced on Wednesday that five people, including three directors of different timber companies, had been named suspects in connection with the inspection of hundreds of shipping containers containing Intsia bijuga logs in separate locations of Jayapura, Papua.
The ministry’s law enforcement director general, Rasio Ridho Sani, identified the three directors only as DG, DT and TS.
DT, who is the director of PT MGM, allegedly had 61 containers of the illegal teak, while TS of PT RPF allegedly had 38 containers and DT of PT EAJ allegedly had 31 containers of the same type of timber. The other two suspects were arrested in West Papua.
Rasio said the ministry had arrested the suspected illegal loggers after following up on the arrest of 57 shipping containers in Makassar, South Sulawesi, and 199 containers in Surabaya, East Java, in January.
“We are now conducting further investigation following their arrest,” Rasio said in a statement.
He added that the three directors had violated the 2013 law on forest protection.
“They could face 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of Rp 100 billion,” Rasio added.
Illegal logging is one of the primary causes of deforestation in Indonesia, posing a threat to the environment.
The director general said the ministry would continue to dismantle illegal timber trade networks that caused huge losses to the country. (das)
Indonesians and the people in countries of the South Pacific belong to one family. We call the Pacific Ocean our home. And our cooperation in developing the South Pacific will define the future that we want to create together for our next generation.
Indonesia and South Pacific countries face growing, common challenges that directly impact our communities. They stretch from the rising of sea levels to the pursuit of welfare through economic development.
In short, aligning our interests to cope with these perennial and vital challenges will continue to be the basis of our future engagement. And the most effective form of engagement is a partnership that is inclusive, comprehensive, mutually beneficial and mutually respectful.
Over the years, this engagement, this partnership has been steadily bolstered at every level — bilateral, regional and global. For instance, at forums such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), Indonesia and the South Pacific countries have together pushed for a stronger global commitment to overcoming the devastating impact of climate change. As maritime states, Indonesia and the South Pacific countries will suffer the most from rising sea levels and extreme weather conditions.
At the bilateral level, Indonesia continues to strengthen its cooperation with South Pacific economies. Maximizing on Indonesia’s positive economic growth, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has stressed the need to invest in international development programs, including in the South Pacific. Among the prominent programs are technical cooperation and capacity building, which will grow more significantly in the years to come.
At the same time, there is tremendous untapped potential on the economic front between the two economies. Indeed, trade relations remain relatively small at US$450 million and there are factors challenging increased investment cooperation. However, as a family, we must unlock this potential. Indonesia and the South Pacific must redouble our efforts to overcome hurdles, most notably the tyranny of distance.
Herein lies the importance of developing connectivity. Not only physical connectivity, but also the enhanced connectivity of hearts and minds.
Indeed, improvements in connectivity have taken place over the years. As Indonesia’s Global Maritime Fulcrum initiative takes shape, we have expanded and upgraded strategic ports in the eastern part of the country. Our aim is to establish greater sea connectivity, which will bring Indonesia closer to the South Pacific.
People-to-people and business contacts have also steadily intensified, as interest in the South Pacific grows among Indonesia’s business community. On the one hand, such trends will situate Indonesia as a strategic gateway for the South Pacific to interact with other countries in the Asia-Pacific. While on the other hand, they open more opportunities for Indonesian businesses to participate in the economic development of the South Pacific.
We are also seeing emerging geopolitical trends in the region, including the Indo-Pacific cooperation. This new trend must be anticipated in order for Indonesia and the South Pacific to seize new opportunities.
In this regard, engagement between Indonesia and the South Pacific becomes ever more significant. A new form of partnership must be forged accordingly.
There are two possible approaches or steps to realize the new partnership. First, expand and deepen the layers of interactions and dialogues.
More platforms for dialogue between Indonesia and the South Pacific are needed. Currently, there are a number of those outside of the United Nations, such as the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) and the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).
While these forums have provided a vibrant platform for dialogue between Indonesia and the South Pacific, there is an urgent need for a framework of cooperation that will allow Indonesia to have a more meaningful dialogue with the South Pacific.
A framework that identifies common challenges and opportunities, and explores areas of concrete cooperation.
The Indonesia South Pacific Forum (ISPF) in Jakarta today is a timely initiative to fill that need. The ISPF provides an avenue for Indonesia and the South Pacific countries to meet in an informal setting, to chart the future and accelerate the delivery of the benefits of our cooperation.
Second, we will diversify the engagement between Indonesia and the South Pacific beyond government-to-government relations. This could be achieved by extending the cooperation toward businesses, academics and civil society.
To this end, as part of the ISPF, Indonesia is also hosting a Business Engagement that brings together Indonesian and South Pacific businesses an economic partnership showcase for Indonesian businesses and an entrepreneurial training program for South Pacific business persons.
Additionally, on the margins of the ISPF, Indonesia will explore the potential for Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs) with Fiji and Papua New Guinea. The PTAs are expected to transform our similar sociocultural traits, historical traditions and political partnership into concrete economic benefits for the peoples of Indonesia and the South Pacific.
All in all, the ISPF provides an avenue for dialogue for Indonesia and the South Pacific, which benefits all — the governments and the peoples. This robust avenue is the new dawn, which opens a new era of Indonesia-South Pacific engagement, an era that has been long overdue.
The writer is Indonesia’s foreign minister.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.
4) ‘Nothing was left’: Flash floods, landslides hit Indonesia’s Papua region
by Asrida Elisabeth, Della Syahni, Lusia Arumingtyas on 21 March 2019 | Translated by Basten Gokkon
Flash floods and landslides triggered by torrential rain hit Indonesia’s Cyclops Mountains in Papua province on March 17, killing nearly 90 people and displacing thousands.
The country’s disaster mitigation agency has cited human-caused deforestation as contributing to the scale of the damage.
Indonesia’s environment ministry has called for a review of zoning plans for the housing settlements around the Cyclops Mountains, but denies that massive logging has occurred in the area.
JAYAPURA/JAKARTA — Rain-triggered flash floods and landslides that struck Indonesia’s easternmost province this past weekend have killed nearly 90 people and driven thousands from their homes. The country’s disaster mitigation agency has cited human-caused deforestation as having exacerbated the scale of the damage.
The flooding and mudslides destroyed buildings and roads in several areas of Jayapura district, in Papua province, on March 17. The district, in the foothills of the Cyclops Mountains, was reportedly drenched in heavy rain for seven hours non-stop. The rain caused Papua’s biggest lake, Sentani, to overflow, causing flooding in at least nine administrative villages in its vicinity.
Homes on stilts on Lake Sentani near Jayapura and the Cyclops Mountains. Image by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay.
By March 19, the death toll from the disaster was reported as 89. Rescuers evacuated more than 6,800 people to temporary shelters, and more than 600 houses and buildings were damaged and submerged, according to official data.
As the floodwaters subside, some people have begun returning to their homes to collect what little remains. Kindena Kogoya lost three of her children and her grandmother when a landslide struck her home on the night of March 17. Two other members of her family are still missing.
She described to Mongabay how logs and rocks washed down the slopes by mud “felt like they were flying” toward her house. “All of it went into the house and destroyed everything,” she said. “Our pig pen was washed away. Nothing was left in the house.”
Rocks and uprooted trees carried by floodwaters and landslides hit hundreds of houses in Jayapura, Papua province. Image by Asrida Elisabeth/Mongabay Indonesia.
Mud-covered school books in Jayapura. Schools were shut across the district after the disaster. Image by Asrida Elisabeth/Mongabay Indonesia.
Rescuers use heavy equipment to aid in their evacuation efforts. Image courtesy of the Indonesian National Disaster Mitigation Agency.
Heavy rainfall and the region’s montane topography were not the only causes for the flash floods and the scale of the subsequent damage, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), in Jakarta on Tuesday.
Sutopo said 21.5 square kilometers (8.3 square miles) of land there had been deforested and degraded since 2013 for public housing, farmland, and small-scale mining. The area, he said, was supposed to have been off-limits for development as a water catchment zone.
“The topography of Cyclops Mountains is pretty to very steep,” he said. “The downstream is more flat, meanwhile the soil in the upstream area is easily eroded.”
Population pressure is also a likely factor, Sutopo said, given that more than 43,000 people had moved into the area since 2013. The Cyclops Mountains, a coastal range spanning 314 square kilometers (121 square miles) of forest, is a designated nature reserve, but human encroachment has become one of its biggest threats.
Amos Ondikeleuw, the leader of an indigenous Papuan community living at the foot of the range, told Mongabay in 2017 that outsiders were logging the forest and using fire to clear land for farming, encroaching on terrain that his community considered sacred.
The extent of critically damaged lands in the reserve reached 7.2 percent in 2012 and was expected to increase in the coming years, according to the Jayapura district forestry office. The office also received reports of rivers running dry due to the annual decrease of freshwater discharge in the district.
Deforested slopes in the Cyclops Mountains are prone to landslides. Image by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay.
The government has deployed rescue and evacuation teams and emergency aid to the affected areas, Sutopo said. Several hospitals in the area were also reopened by March 19.
Experts say forest degradation in the buffer zone of the Cyclops Mountains has contributed to the imbalance in the area’s hydrology and ecology.
“Rock digging near the rivers can reduce the soil’s endurance against pressure,” making it more prone to landslides, said Prihananto Setiadji, a geologist at Cenderawasih University in Jayapura.
The environment ministry has called for a review of zoning plans for housing settlements around the Cyclops Mountains, but denies that the area has suffered a massive incursion by loggers.
“There’s no [large-scale] encroachment, because the area is managed by five indigenous communities in a mixed-plantation scheme,” Wiratno, the ministry’s head of natural resources and ecosystem conservation, said in Jakarta. “There are no companies, because it’s a very tough terrain.”
Ministry data show that primary forests in the Cyclops Mountains shrank by 10.5 percent between 2012 and 2017, to 58.4 square kilometers (22.5 square miles). Secondary forest increased by 9 percent during the same period to 23 square kilometers (8.9 square miles). These forests serve as a water catchment during heavy downpours, according to the ministry.
Wiratno attributed the severity of the landslides on the steep slopes in the area. “Even though the forest isn’t degraded, when it’s at a steep angle, coupled with extreme rainfall, it will cause a big impact for the developed [downhill] area there,” he said.
Wiratno said the environment ministry would increase its target for forest and land restoration in Papua to 25 square kilometers (9.7 square miles) from the initial 10 square kilometers (3.9 square miles), and develop efforts to improve soil and water management in the region. The ministry will also deploy a team to investigate the most recent disaster in Jayapura.
“We will collect the facts as accurately as possible, and try to reconstruct the landslide so we can get a more comprehensive picture of what caused the landslide and what were the contributing factors,” said M. Saparis Sudaryanto, the ministry’s director of watershed planning and evaluation.
Houses, office buildings, roads, bridges and public facilities across Jayapura were affected by the disaster. Image courtesy of the Indonesian National Disaster Mitigation Agency.
This story was first reported by Mongabay’s Indonesia team and published here and here on our Indonesian site on March 18 and 19, 2019.
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