Monday, September 10, 2012

Illegal palm oil firms blamed for razing protected east Kalimantan forests

Tunggadewa Mattangkilang in the Jakarta Globe: Forestry officials and police in Berau district are investigating the burning down of 200 hectares of land inside a protected forest by illegal oil palm plantation operators.  Heri Suparno, head of forest protection at the district forestry office, said on Friday that large swaths of land inside the Tanjung Batu protected forest were razed to the ground, along with smaller patches in the neighboring Kampung Kasai community forest.

He said police had arrested five people and named them suspects in connection with the burnings and were still looking for several others believed to have gone into hiding in the forest.  “The people who burned down the forest were actually local villagers,” Heri said.

“There are indications that they were paid to do so by palm oil companies. These companies are operating illegally, they don’t have permits. We’re going to investigate them as well.”  He declined to identify the companies.

Heri added that officials had also discovered evidence of illegal logging inside Tanjung Batu, including piles of logs stacked on a riverbank, apparently ready to be transported downstream.

“There were hundreds of logs just waiting to be shipped. These were all high-value logs: meranti, marsolo and bengkirai,” he said, referring to native hardwood species....

An old print of a journey in the forests of Borneo

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