This sixth edition features the Top 5 Places to Watch for indications of illegal logging between April 1 and June 30, 2019.

#1 Indication of Illegal Logging at a 1,193.94-Ha Area in Kotabaru Regency, South Kalimantan

The first indicated area is located in Cantung Kiri Hulu Village, Hampang Sub-district. A 1,193.94-ha logging was indicated to occur in the production forest area near the concession boundaries of an IUPHHK-HTI (Business Permit for Forest Products Utilization – Industrial Plantation Forest) area, an IUPHHK-HA (Natural Forest) area and a palm oil plantation. This indicated area is adjacent to a protected forest area and is not an area with concession permit. It appears that the newly cleared land is an extension of a pre-existing land clearing. The clearing is most likely intended for a plantation since it is done in block pattern.

In July 2018, media reports claimed that the Forest Ranger Team of Cantung Forest Management Unit detected land clearing at the production forest area for farming in Cantung Kiri Hulu Village. Previously, in 2016, Forestry Service located 20 m3 of ironwood logs that were allegedly produced illegally at the Hampang Sub-district, Kotabaru Regency.

#2 Indication of Illegal Logging at a 285.93-Ha Area, Natuna Regency, Riau Island

The second indicated area (#2) is located in Binjai Village, West Bunguran. The 285.93 ha of cleared land is in a production forest area and covered by secondary swamp forest. Based on observation of the high-resolution satellite images from April to June, the land clearing was done in stages. Massive wood logging was observed early on in the observation period, while land burning happened at the end of the observation period.

In mid-May 2019, the media reported that peatland fires in Binjai Village were not linked to illegal logging. As quoted by the mass media, illegal logging activities had taken place in Natuna Regency, including in East Sedanau Village near Binjai Village.

#3 Indication of Illegal Logging at a 184.59-Ha Area, Banyuasin Regency, South Sumatera

A 184.59-ha illegal logging was indicated to occur at Makarti Jaya Sub-district. This area is adjacent to a Non-Forest Area (Areal Penggunaan Lain/APL). High-resolution satellite images show that the southern part of the Non-Forest Area is now a newly planted palm oil plantation. Yet, the real cause of forest loss in the indicated area has not been identified since planting activities have not started at the cleared area.

After in the second, third and fifth editions, this is the fourth time the area has been included in our Places to Watch report. This indicates recurring illegal loggings at the protected forest area of Banyuasin Regency. If not dealt immediately, the protected forest areas with mangrove forest cover in Banyuasin Regency may be threatened.

#4 Indication of Illegal Logging at a 118.08-Ha Area, West Pasaman Regency, West Sumatra

Another loss of forest cover has been indicated to happen in West Pasaman Regency again. The Regency saw the loss of forest cover in a different area on the third and fifth editions of Places to Watch. This time, the loss of forest cover occurred at the Nagari Air Bangis production forest area, Beremas River Sub-district. Forest clearing was performed sporadically, irregularly, at a relatively small clearing area. The cause of deforestation could not be identified because there was no visible planting activity in the clearing area during the observation period.

Several media published rampant illegal logging activities in the West Pasaman Regency. In August 2019, the Integrated Forest Safeguarding Team (TPHT) found 5 m3 of abandoned illegal wood logs at the Production Forest area, Nagari Air Bangis, Beremas River Sub-district, West Pasaman Regency. The wood logs were found during a patrol by TPHT on 13-14 August 2019.

#5 Indication of Illegal Logging at a 91.08-Ha Area in Banyuasin Regency, South Sumatera

A 91.08-ha illegal logging was indicated to occur in Sungsang IV Village, Banyuasin II Sub-district. The land clearing occurred in a protected mangrove forest area. Based on observation of high-resolution satellite images, the land clearing was performed in block patterns indicating that it was for a plantation. Yet to be planted, the cleared land is allegedly an extension to the palm oil plantation located at the Non-Forest Area around the observation area.

Another illegal logging at this protected mangrove forest area of Banyuasin Regency was featured in #3 of this edition of Places of Watch. Although included in Places to Watch for a number of times, Banyuasin Regency was one of the selected locations under the Simultaneous Mangrove Planting Movement, which emphasized on the importance of mangrove ecosystem preservation in the Regency.

The Next Step

These Five Places to Watch are identified through analysis of a number of data, such as GLAD Alert, Forest Area Status Map and Land Cover/Utilization Map. Results of 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

The Five Places to Watch indicate that illegal loggings occurred repeatedly and were extensions/expansions from previous activities. The third indicated area (#3) was included as an indicated area in the second, third and fifth editions of Places to Watch. West Pasaman Regency in Riau was also included as the top area to watch in the third and fifth editions of Places to Watch. These findings indicate prolonged illegal loggings that potentially expand the coverage of forest cover loss. Further, these Five Places to Watch have also brought the sense of urgency in mitigating environmental damages. Further, some areas are indicated to be within mangrove and swamp forest areas; a few of them have been included in the list repeatedly.

As such, authorities in charge of forest protection at the Five Indicated Areas must collaboratively take action to conduct field verification and preventive measures against expansion of illegal logging. The authorities in question are the Directorate General of Law Enforcement of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, local forest offices, related forest management unit and the Police. Community participation in providing field information will also make the verification process easier.

2. Upon Verification, the Response Must Take into Account Socio-economic Backgrounds of Local Communities

Illegal logging across the Five Indicated Areas is closely associated with small-scale economic activities. As such, upon verification, the response must take into account socio-economic backgrounds of the local communities. The mechanism may include a logical and fair scheme of conflict resolution, social forestry, agrarian reformation and law enforcement. In addition, it is necessary to trace the perpetrators