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

This eleventh edition features the top 5 Places to Watch for indications of illegal logging between 1 July and 30 September 2020. Places to Watch uses the method and data of GLAD Alert from Global Forest Watch, which is analyzed quarterly.

#1 Rababaka Transition Village, Woja District, Dompu Regency, West Nusa Tenggara: 148.50 ha

Indicated area #1 is located in an area within West Nusa Tenggara Protected Forest Management Unit (KPHL) XIX with secondary dryland forest cover. The area is the result of expansion of the forest clearing covered in two previous editions of Places to Watch, indicated area #1 in the seventh edition and indicated area #4 in the eighth edition. The clearing was done in small patches in stages. Satellite image shows dryland agriculture on the western side of the area under observation. The reason for the forest clearing is uncertain since both the newly logged-over area and the previously logged-over area had not been utilized by the end of the observation period. The emergence of indicated areas in the Rababaka Transition Village for the third time indicates continuous illegal logging in the village.

#2 Teluk Kepayang Village, Kusan Hulu District, Tanah Bumbu Regency, South Kalimantan: 98.82 ha

Indicated area #1 is located in an area within Tanah Bumbu Protected Forest Management Unit (KPHL) VI with secondary dryland forest cover. The forest clearing area borders with a Business Permit for Forest Timber Product Utilization-Industrial Plantation Forest (IUPHHK-HTI) concession to the north and an oil palm plantation concession to the south. Satellite image indicates a mining area to the south of indicated area #2 and a few logging roads that connect a newly logged-over area and old logged-over area around indicated area #2. The reason for the forest clearing has not been identified because the logged-over area hadn’t been utilized by the end of the observation period.

In line with the findings in indicated area #2, in August 2020, it was reported that Forestry Police Partner Communities (MPP) in the Kusan Hulu District captured trucks transporting illegal timbers. However, the news report mentioned that the authorities, such as KPH Kusan and Kusan Hulu Sector Police, had not received any details on the case and no information had been gained on the origin of those timbers.

#3 Upang Marga Village, Air Salek District, Banyuasin Regency, South Sumatra: 76.95 ha

Another illegal logging has been found in the Banyuasin Regency. Indicated area #3 is located in an area belonging to the Technical Implementation Unit of the Protected Forest Management Unit (UPTD KPHL) for Area III Palembang-Banyuasin with secondary mangrove forest cover. The land clearing was the result of expansion from indicated area #1 in edition 10, which is located north of this area. This is the fifth time that Banyuasin has been mentioned in Places to Watch, previously appearing as indicated area #1 in edition 10, indicated area #3 in edition 6 and edition 5 and indicated area #5 in edition 3. Satellite image shows the same patterned forest-clearing blocks connected to a road network.

Satellite image shows that the roads, logged over two years prior and recently, had not been utilized by the end of the observation period. To the south of indicated area #3, an oil palm plantation can be seen.

The emergence of indicated area #2 indicates continuous illegal logging in UPTD KPHL for Area III.

#4 Nanga Pak Village, Sayan District, Melawi Regency, West Kalimantan: 69.84 ha

Indicated area #4 is located in Melawi Production Forest Management Unit (KPHP) XXIV with secondary dryland forest cover. The logged-over area borders with an IUPHHK-HTI concession to the southeast and northwest. Satellite image shows small blocks of clearing stretching along a logging road that is connected to a large road. The forest clearing area borders with a previously logged over area. Designation of the logged-over forest has not been identified since the area remained unutilized by the end of the observation period.

Online research failed to find any report on illegal logging activities in indicated area #4. However, by the end of 2020, circulation of illegal timbers in the Melawi Regency remained massive, according to reports.

#5 Sanjango Village, Karossa Disrict, Central Mamuju Regency, West Sulawesi: 69.57 ha

Indicated area #5 is located in Karossa KPHP IV with a secondary dryland forest cover. Satellite image shows that forest clearing was done through selective cutting in an area that borders with a Business Permit for Timber Forest Product Utilization – Nature Forest (IUPHHK-HA) concession. By the end of the observation period, the designation of the logged-over forest hadn’t been clearly determined.

There has been no recent reports on illegal forest logging activities in indicated area #5, but a research in 2017 shows that limited road access to the forest and shortage of forestry police hamper the eradication of continuing illegal forest logging in the area of KHP Karossa.

The Next Step

The Five Places to Watch are identified based on indications analyzed using various instruments such as GLAD Alert, Forest Area Status Map 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.

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 #1 and #3 need to be a focus due to their location in a protected forest and the fact that they are an extension of previous clearing recorded in previous editions of Places to Watch. This is also the third mention of Dompu Regency and the sixth mention of Banyuasin Regency as five places to watch for illegal logging. This indicates that more commitment to the supervision of landscape management and governance in Dompu Regency and Banyuasin Regency is needed.

As such, authorities in charge of forest protection at the five indicated areas such as the relevant Forest Management Units (KPH), Directorate General of Law Enforcement under the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, 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. Community participation in providing information from the field may help in the verification process. This includes the establishment of a Forestry Police Partner Communities (MMP) as reported in indicated area #2. The MMP program has been implemented in a few areas, including in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park. To properly perform its function in supporting the Forestry Police, MMP requires periodic capacity and skill development.

If field verification is not conducted promptly, illegal logging will 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.

Illegal logging across the five indicated areas is 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, including potential livelihood alternatives to be developed. The handling mechanism may consider various conflict resolution schemes and area management options through social forestry, agrarian reform and fair law enforcement. 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 Forest Management Unit (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.

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