Aceh Governor Imposes Logging Ban

On World Environment Day, June 6, 2007, Aceh governor Irwandi Yusuf declared an indefinite moratorium on logging in Indonesia’s northwestern-most province. Aceh reportedly is losing the equivalent of two soccer fields of forest each day—about 20 hectares (49 acres). The governor decided on a ban both to counter the flooding, landslides, and other disasters caused by reckless logging, as well as a means to stop the criminal enterprises profiting from the activity.

Writing in the Jakarta Post, Mohamad Rayan, welcomed the moratorium, but argued that the devil is in the details of the new policy—who will police the ban (in light of the fact that police units have been in involved in illegal forestry ventures), will local communities be involved in developing a sustainable forestry policy, how will legitimate needs for timber be addressed, and how will the loss of revenue from legitimate logging be compensated?

Rayan sees three strategic aspects closely related to the ban:

  1. The need to review existing logging permits and to develop non-wood forest products.

  2. The need for forest rehabilitation measures.

  3. The need to reduce the long-term rate of deforestation, through law enforcement.

Rayan also points out that other resource extraction industries need close monitoring, including the 14 companies involved in coal mining, the 17 firms in gold prospecting, as well as the growth of oil palm plantations.

The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), meanwhile, has urged the central and provincial governments to adopt policies similar to those of Aceh’s Governor Irwandi. Walhi is arguing for a 15-year period during which no new forest concessions are issued and no existing ones extended. Logging is an important factor in disasters across Indonesia. According to Walhi, there were 364 disasters with more than 10,000 deaths in 2006.

Likewise, the Aceh Society Working Group, another NGO, argues that Aceh’s logging moratorium should be extended to all other provinces in Sumatra—in recognition of the fact that landslides and floods caused by deforestation do not respect provincial borders.