The strengthening of existing forest conservation reserves may be the first step to combating illegal logging in Indonesia.
This suggestion was made during a recent meeting between the Indonesian Minister of Forestry, Dr Nur Mahmudi Ismail, and ITTO's Executive Director, Dr Manoel Sobral Filho.
The meeting, which took place in Jakarta on 11 December 2000, was held to plan an ITTO mission to the country. One of the purposes of the mission is to assist in the formulation of an action plan with 'strong measures' to combat illegal logging.
Illegal logging is widely acknowledged to be widespread in Indonesia. It includes the taking of timber from designated conservation areas, the over-logging of production forests, the smuggling of timber across national boundaries, and corrupt practices along the trading chain.
However, while the problem is acknowledged, dealing with it is immensely difficult. Speaking after his meeting with the minister, Dr Sobral said that Indonesia had taken great strides in declaring many conservation areas in tropical forests, including two large parks on the border with Malaysia on the island of Borneo.
"Such efforts deserve ongoing support by the international community; after all, many of the values of tropical forests, such as biodiversity and carbon storage, are of global significance," he said.
"With a relatively small amount of money, we can help ensure that such values are protected from illegal activities while at the same time rewarding local communities in their efforts to maintain the forest."
With funding from the governments of Japan and Switzerland, ITTO is already providing support for the 850,000-hectare Betung Kerihun National Park bordering the Malaysian state of Sarawak. A new project - funded by the governments of Japan and Switzerland and implemented by the Ministry of Forestry in collaboration with the World Wide Fund for Nature Indonesia - has just commenced to strengthen the management of the 1.4 million-hectare Keyan Mentarang National Park on the border with Sabah. The 'transboundary' nature of these parks also assists in reducing the illegal trade of tropical timber.
Dr Sobral said that Dr Nur Mahmudi agreed that Indonesia should continue to collaborate with ITTO to develop more such projects in support of the protection of tropical forest conservation areas.
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