Riau Forest Rescuer Network (Jikalahari) a group of NGO in Riau for protecting forest and preventing forest conversion have accused the Indonesian President as well as its Forestry Minister of not doing enough to prevent forest destruction in Riau. Now only 22.5 percent of Riau is still covered by forests.
In its report Jikalahari stated that in the past three years alone, Riau Province has lost half of a million hectare of its forest and the destruction continues with around 188 thousand hectares every year or more than 720 football field every day. Even worst is that more than 70 percent of those area are peat soil which supposed to be protected by the international as well as Indonesian owns regulations.
“The deforestation in the last three years is greater than the rate of deforestation in 2005-2007 which were around 160 thousand hectare year. This figure shows no reduction in the rate of deforestation and forest degradation even increased significantly even with the moratorium policy,” said Muslim Rasyid, Jikalahari coordinator.
The 12 pages report shows massive deforestation which is clearly contradict the commitment made bye the President of Indonesia to reduce CO2 emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, which were always repeated and pledged to foreign countries.
Jikalahari points to the cause of these destruction to large companies that own the rights to manage these forests many of which did not conduct proper business practice in accordance with Human Rights, has legality problems, conflict with residents and causing substantial environmental damage and pollution.
Jikalahari also question the effectiveness of the moratorium to halt the forest conversion. The Forestry Ministry that issue the regulation to designate the area protected by the moratorium in Riau has revised these regulations four times leaving out around 1 million hectares from the original size. Out of the only 2.3 million hectares protected by the moratorium, just 42.5 thousand hectares are new area since the rest are already protected either through peat soil regulation or Indonesia’s own protected forest law.
The NGO urges the President to continue the investigation of many forest crimes which has been stopped illegally by the local police, to revise and revoke if necessary the forestry permits given to irresponsible companies and for the Environmental Ministries to claim damages from these companies to try and recover the loss of to the state.
Although operating in Riau province in general, the focus area of Jikalahari program consists of 4 Block (group) of peat swamp forest with area estimation of 2,949,710.51 ha. Those four (4) Block are: Block Semenanjung Kampar, Block Kerumutan, Block Senepis and Block Siak Giam Kecil.