The Indonesian government has made significant progress in tackling illegal logging since 2005. But while the huge quantities of illegal timber flowing out of the country during the first half of the decade has declined, effective law enforcement against those responsible – the financiers, company bosses and corrupt officials – has been woefully inadequate. It is no wonder the Indonesian President has ordered the country’s judicial mafia eradication taskforce to scrutinise illegal logging cases. The taskforce should certainly focus its attention on two merbau smugglers named in this report – Ricky Gunawan and Hengky Gosal.
The illegal logging and trade of merbau in Indonesia is symptomatic of wider governance and enforcement failures in the forest sector as a whole. From the chaotic way in which Papua’s precious forests are managed to the failure of agencies such as government-owned inspection agency Sucofindo and official timber agency BRIK to prevent violations of the log and sawn timber ban, the need for more effective control systems is clear if the battle against illegal logging is to progress.
Fortunately an opportunity to make the system fit for purpose is available in the form of the new Sistem Verifikasi Legalitas Kayu (SVLK). This Ministry of Forestry regulation has the potential – if fully implemented – to bring proper transparency and regulation to the country’s notoriously opaque and corrupt forestry sector.
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