Thursday, 09 August, 2012 | 17:29 WIB
Perhutani Recruits Pendekar Silat to Secure Forest
TEMPO Interactive, Surabaya:Perum Perhutani Unit II of East Java is collaborating with a martial arts school, Faithful Heart of the Lotus, to protect the forest from looting and illegal logging. A total of 60 pendekar or warriors have formed a unit called the Reksawana Faithful Guards.
"Our target was 100 warriors, but we only managed to recruit 60," said head of security at East Java Perhutani, Tubagus A. Saifuddin in Surabaya on Monday evening.
The pendekar, Tubagus says, will focus on preventing deforestation and illegal logging. Rangers, Tubagus says, cannot work alone because they are not allowed to carry firearms.
As a first step, Reksawana will be split into three groups to secure the Kesatuan Pemangkuan Hutan (KPH) Jatirogo, Tuban. The KPH, according to Tubagus, is more vulnerable to illegal logging than other KPH. Reksawana guards will be assigned to guard the entrance and exit of the woods. "So far it’s been effective, in the sense that they’re able to reduce illegal logging," said Tubagus.
Tubagus added that theft by illegal loggers was reaching alarming levels. In 2011 for example, Perhutani East Java suffered Rp6.1 billion in losses.
The losses have been increasing sharply. Perhutani has already lost Rp9.9 billion this year. "In addition to Jatirogo, theft often occurs in Bojonegoro, Padangan, Ngawi and Saradan because the teak wood quality is excellent," said Tubagus.
According to Tubagus, people loot the forest because they are supported by unscrupulous officials, especially police officers. Tubagus claimed to have reported a police officer that had been proved to be supporting the illegal loggers. "This police officer is selling the loot to merchants, especially furniture makers, at insanely low prices," said Tubagus.
Head of corporate social responsibility at Perhutani East Java, Andi Adrian said the villagers on the outskirts of the forest generally live in poverty. The lack of arable land, he said, makes it easy for others to lure them to loot the timber. "There are 1,906 villages in East Java on the edge of forest, almost all of them completely marginalized," said Andi.
To improve their welfare, Perhutani has designed a pattern of empowerment in the form of joint forest management. The community is involved in the maintenance and preservation of the forest. "Production sharing of timber between us and the community can be up to 25 percent," he said. KUKUH S WIBOWO