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Tuesday, 3 April, 2001, 16:52 GMT 17:52 UK
Indonesia fails to tackle logging
Forest fire in Indonesia
Large areas of rainforest have been cleared and burned
By Richard Galpin in Jakarta

The Indonesian Government has admitted that it has not been able to meet commitments made last year to key international donors on tackling illegal logging, which is taking place on a massive scale across the country.

The announcement comes just a few weeks before a critical meeting of donors is due to take place in the capital, Jakarta.

The government's admission could endanger future loans to Indonesia, which is still in the midst of an economic crisis.

Illegal logging in Indonesia
Timber barons are accused of illegally making millions
The newly installed forestry minister, Marzuki Usman, is quoted as saying that the targets agreed to at the donors' meeting held in Tokyo last October, were unrealistic.

International donors have recently put illegal logging on the agenda as the problem has become so serious in Indonesia.

At the Tokyo meeting, the Indonesian Government had to give commitments to take a number of measures to save its fast-disappearing forests.

But environmental organisations say almost nothing has been done. Instead they believe the problem is getting steadily worse.

Failure

The World Bank, which will chair the next donors' meeting in Jakarta later this month, has described the enforcement of forestry law as a near failure.

A man has to wear a mask as smoke concentrates from burning forests
Forest fires in recent years have caused region-wide health problems
It has already written to the government threatening to cancel one of its biggest conservation projects in a national park in Sumatra.

The scheme is worth $30m. The bank says illegal timber is still being transported through the area in broad daylight.

And, it says, illegal saw-mills continue to operate with impunity.

Timber tycoons

This is a pattern which is repeated across the country in national parks where the forests are supposed to be protected.

Environmentalists say timber barons continue to make hundreds of millions of dollars from this illegal trade.

They say evidence detailing the activities of one of the most notorious timber tycoons has mysteriously disappeared after being handed to the authorities.

It is a bleak picture and the question is whether international donors will now take punitive action against the government.

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See also:

21 Jul 00 | Sci/Tech
Indonesia's fires 'Suharto's legacy'
04 Jul 98 | Haze 98
Haze: Who starts the fires?
06 Apr 98 | Haze 98
Haze: Bad for the health
18 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Jakarta promised $4.8bn
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