TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) revealed that there were 124 cases of forest crimes occurring from 2001 to 2012. These crimes had incurred the state a total loss of Rp691 trillion (approx. US$62.73 billion). ICW researcher, Lalola Easter Kaban, said the finding shows just how many irregularities are occurring in the forestry sector.
"The government must act decisively. All this time, actions come only from operators in the field. But the corporates as offenders remain untouched," Lalola said in a press conference at the ICW office, Jakarta, on Sunday, October 27.
Lalola urged law enforcers to crack down companies that have committed these crimes. Of the 124 cases, 37 field operators have been given criminal charges along with 20 company directors and 15 people from the private parties.
"Based on the area, the city of Jambi is has the most case with 13 cases of crime, followed by Sarolangun with 11 cases, Ketapang 10 cases, Muaro Jambi with nine cases and Pekanbaru with seven," she said.
As for corruption practices in the forestry sector, Lalola added, mst of them are committed by local officials. "Certainly there are bribes and gratuities in the efforts to obtain licenses, utilize forest products and illegal forest produce as well as tax evasion."
Indonesia's tropical rainforest is the third largest in the world, accounting for 10 percent of global forest cover, making it one of the world's key timber suppliers. Ironically, uneven demand and supply, coupled with inadequate law enforcement and failing bureaucracy, also puts Indonesia as one of the world's major source for illegally produced and exported timber.
The Forestry Ministry estimated that Indonesia has been losing 1.6-2.8 million hectares every year to illegal logging and land conversion, which resulted from a poor management and lack of law enforcement.
ANGGA SUKMA WIJAYA, RIRIE RANGGASARI