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Places to Watch 12th Edition: Five Indicated Illegal Logging Area in Indonesia

This 12th edition features the top Five Places to Watch for indications of illegal logging between 1 October and 31 December 2020. Places to Watch uses the method and data of GLAD Alert from Global Forest Watch, which is analyzed quarterly.

#1 Puu Wonua Village, Tontonunu District, Bombana Regency, Southeast Sulawesi: 141.48 ha

Indicated area #1 is located in Production Forest Management Unit (KPHP) X in Southeast Sulawesi with secondary dryland forest cover. Satellite image indicates that the forest clearing has been ongoing since July 2020 and that the area borders with an Industrial Plantation Forest (HTI) concession to the west. The area also overlaps with a Mining Business Permit (IUP) issued by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources without any Leasehold of Forest Area License (PPKH). As of the end of the observation period, the cleared forest area remained unutilized so that the reason for clearing has not been identified.

There has been no publicly accessible media coverage on any illegal activities in indicated area #1. However, the Bombana Regency Environmental Service had threatened to deal with mining business permits that are not Clean and Clear in the Bombana Regency as mining was suspected to be the cause of flooding in the area. Independent forest monitors and law enforcement officers need to immediately conduct field visit to follow up on these findings.

#2 Taringen Village, Manuhing District, Gunung Mas Regency, Central Kalimantan: 61.29 ha

Another illegal logging is indicated in the Gunung Mas Regency. This indicated area #2 is an expansion of clearing to the west of area #1 in Edition 9 within a production forest area with secondary dryland forest cover. This forest clearing is indicated to occur within an oil palm Plantation Business Permit (IUP) concession that overlaps with a production forest area without any Forest Area Release Permit (IPKH). Satellite image shows forest clearing in large regular blocks and a network of roads connected to the clearing area. Since the initial observation in Edition 9 in January 2020 until the end of this observation period, the cleared forest has not been planted or utilized.

Findings in area #2 indicate that no action has been taken to prevent forest clearing, which has been observed since January 2021 (Places to Watch Edition 9). This strengthens the claim of massive illegal activities in the Gunung Mas Regency in media coverage and NGO reports.

#3 Taore Village, Aere District, East Kolaka Regency, Southeast Sulawesi: 59.58 ha

Indicated area #3 is located within Production Forest Management Unit (KPHP) Unit XII Ladongi with secondary dryland forest cover. Satellite image indicates that the forest clearing was followed by land burning based on the dark reddish hues indicating burnt remains of biomass. The forest clearing shows an irregular pattern that matches the road path. Settlements are also found at the clearing location. As of the end of the observation period, the cleared land remained unutilized, though it is likely that the forest clearing was done for dryland agriculture, which is commonly found in the surrounding area.

Secondary data search failed to find any information regarding illegal activities in indicated area #3. However, land fires due to agricultural clearing are frequently reported in East Kolaka.

#4 Amole Village, Kwamki Narama District, Mimika Regency, Papua: 57.15 ha

Another forest clearing is indicated in the Mimika Regency. Indicated area #4 is located south to area #5 in Edition 9 in a production forest area with primary swamp forest cover. This area is indicated to overlap with the location of an oil palm Plantation Business Permit (IUP) with no Forest Area Release Permit (IPKH). Satellite image shows that this forest clearing occurs on the side of the main road. The reason for the forest clearing has not been identified since the land remained unutilized by the end of the observation period.

There has been no media coverage on any illegal activities in indicated area #4. However, a massive expansion of oil palm plantations by private companies in the Mimika Regency has been reported.

#5 Tikonu Village, Wundulako District, Kolaka Regency, Southeast Sulawesi: 52.56 ha

Indicated area #5 is located in South Mekonga Production Forest Management Unit (KPHP) XI with primary dryland forest cover. Satellite image shows irregular, sporadic clearing pattern along the road. A similar pattern can be seen around the forest clearing area, which indicates that the cleared land will be used for dryland plantation, although it remained unutilized by the end of the observation period.

There has not been much publicly accessible media coverage on illegal activities in indicated area #5. However, a similar clearing pattern found in indicated area #3 shows that KPH, security forces and the Southeast Sulawesi Provincial Forestry Service need to take immediate action to protect the forest areas in Southeast Sulawesi.

The Next Step

The Five Places to Watch are mere indications based on analysis using various instruments such as GLAD Alert, Forest Area Status Map, Forest Area Utilization and Cultivation and Land Cover/Utilization Map. However, this analysis can be used in determining the areas where monitoring for illegal logging must be prioritized. To that end, the following steps need to be taken immediately by the authorities.

1. Field Verification and Action to Prevent Expansion of Illegal Logging in the Five Indicated Areas.

Field verification must be done in these five Indicated Areas as a follow up. In this edition, indicated areas #2 and #4 need to be focused on due to their location in a production forest as an extension of a previous clearing recorded in Places to Watch Edition 9. More intensive effort is needed from the Forest Management Units (KPH) that holds jurisdiction over the above indicated areas, especially through intensive monitoring in indicated areas to prevent illegal logging in other forest areas in the future. Meanwhile, Provincial Governments must be more aggressive in taking action against oil palm companies that operate in Forest Areas without any Forest Area Release Permit (IPKH) and prevent forest area exploitation without all required permits.

The overlapping between a Plantation Business Permit and a Mining Business Permit with forest areas without IPKH and PPKH provide the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MOEF) with the legal power to take action if there is a violation of the issued IUP or if a PPKH permit is applied for mining activities for which an IUP has been issued. The Province of Southeast Sulawesi also needs to be monitored considering three indicated areas in this Places to Watch are located there.

As such, authorities in charge of forest protection at the five indicated areas such as the relevant KPH, Directorate General of Law Enforcement under the MOEF, the local Province Forest Service and the local Police must collaborate to conduct field verification and take preventive measures to prevent further illegal logging and illegal forest utilization.

Local community participation in providing information from the field may help in the verification process. If field verification is not conducted promptly, illegal logging may grow massively and the negative environmental impact will be inevitable. As the forest area that has been cleared and utilized for non-forestry activities grows larger, its management and restoration will become more challenging.

2. Upon Verification, the Handling Process Must Take into Account Socio-economic Background of Local Communities.

The illegal logging indications in indicated areas #3 and #5 are closely associated with small-scale economic activities. As such, upon verification, the handling process must take into account the socio-economic background of the local communities. The handling mechanism may include logical and fair conflict resolution, social forestry option for area management, agrarian reformation and fair law enforcement schemes. In addition, it is also necessary to trace the perpetrators back to the masterminds (intellectual players and funders) who are reaping the ultimate benefits of illegal logging.

3. Cooperation with local Forestry Services and forest monitoring community organizations.

WRI Indonesia has introduced many data and tools that are used in the analysis for this Places to Watch to the KPH staff, community organizations and Independent Forestry Monitoring Networks in various areas as part of the cooperation to monitor the forest in the effort to prevent illegal logging. Data from Places to Watch can serve as early indication that signals the need for further field verification to gather stronger evidence for law enforcement. Multistakeholder cooperation is needed for more effective and efficient monitoring and prevention as each institution has different resources, expertise and authority to take action on different matters.

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