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Countering Forest Crimes to support the Implementation of REDD+ in Indonesia

Jakarta (Indonesia), 21 February 2014
- In Indonesia, illegal logging and other forest crimes have reached a critical state. In fact a study by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) concluded based upon on official statistics, that the second largest illicit flow (USD 17 bn) in East Asia and the Pacific is the trafficking of wood and wood products. The illegal wood-based products originate, mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia. In addition, organized crime gain another USD 2, 5 bn from illicit wildlife trafficking.

Indonesia's forests are among the most extensive, diverse, and valuable in the world. Covering over 70 percent of the total land area, the Indonesian forest estate generates income and jobs, and provides livelihoods for millions of people, as well as nearly 10 percent of non-petroleum export revenues.

Despite that, Indonesian forests are also the world's most rapidly deforested and degraded. Forest crime which mainly links with corruption has become the main threat of the deforestation and degradation of the forest in Indonesia. It is becoming an ever more sophisticated activity requiring national authorities and law enforcement agencies to develop responses commensurate with the scale and the complexity of the challenge to keep one step ahead.

Inadequate law enforcement continues to increase Indonesia's vulnerability to forest crimes. Arrests of perpetrators have been carried out from time to time, but only a very small percentage of illegal logging cases have been effectively prosecuted. Although Indonesia's forest law stipulates a penalty of up to 15 years in jail for buying, selling, or receiving illegal timber, offenders are more likely to receive light jail sentences or small fines.

In response to that, UNODC in partnership with Ministry of Forestry and with financial support by the Royal Norwegian Embassy is conducting a 20-months sub programme to strengthen criminal justice responses on forest crimes to support REDD+ implementation in Indonesia. This as part of the UNODC/Government of Indonesia 2012-2015 Country Programme.

This sub programme aims to ensure that the REDD+ implementation in Keerum district (Papua), Raja Ampat district (West Papua) and Kapuas District (Central Kalimantan) are strengthened through effective criminal justice responses on forest crimes.

On 17 - 18 February in Jakarta, a 2 days workshop was conducted to establish the baseline data on forest crimes in the three project districts. In this workshop, participants discussed the need of a proper mechanism for information and knowledge sharing among law enforcement agencies, civil society and also the local community.

The workshop identified that one of the main issues of Inadequate law enforcement is caused by the lack of transparency and shared information among law enforcement agencies as well as lack of resources and appropriate training for law enforcement officers. It also identified that Forest Crimes involve crimes outside the forestry sector, such as corruption and money laundering. Prominent examples of this include corruption cases tied to forestry businesses. Such cases mostly involve senior officials who are very difficult to apprehend using forestry law.

Effective forest law enforcement is crucial to the success of REDD+ implementation in Indonesia. Forest agencies alone cannot effectively address issues of forest crimes. UNODC believes that countering forest crimes requires the involvement of multiple agencies and actors to curb corruption and fraud.