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UNODC first talk series in 2011 calls for anti-corruption measures in the forestry sector

Jakarta (Indonesia), 24 February 2011
- On 8 February the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), in collaboration with UNODC launched the 2011 anti-corruption talk series. This was done in conjunction with the International Year of Forests 2011 and the topic of roundtable discussion was: 'Illegal logging and the links to corruption in Indonesia'.

Indonesia, one of the worlds key timber source countries, remains heavily affected by criminal deforestation. Here, as elsewhere, illegal logging relies on corruption to stay in business and this requires the cooperation of officials throughout the production chain. At local level, illegal logging destroys forest-based livelihoods and some villagers are made complicit in the deforestation that will harm their own community. Much emphasis is given to programmes to reduce harmful emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in Indonesia. Yet, the link between illegal logging and corruption must be factored into these programmes if they are to be successful.

Presenting during the roundtable were Professor Rudi Satrio, Criminal Law Expert at the University of Indonesia, Mr. Deddy Ratih, Campaign Manager of Friends of the Earth Indonesia and Mr. Michele Zaccheo, Director of UNIC who moderated the session.

"When talking about forestry in Indonesia it is intrinsically linked to the degradation and loss of natural resources. This is caused by gaps between supply and demand in the forest industry. According to the Indonesian working group on forest finance, 54 per cent of the forest industry uses natural timber for the manufacture of pulp and paper", explained Mr. Ratih.

He elaborated on illegal logging and explained that it had to include what he calls destructive logging. By this, Mr. Ratih referred to activities of logging companies whose operations appear seemingly legal. He explained that: "The company is legal but their use of the forest is illegal. They have legal permits but they also engage in illegal acts".

In 2003, Indonesia peaked in terms of illegal logging. The country lost 1,825 million hectares of forest, representing approximately IDR 43,680 trillion. Mr. Ratih concluded his presentation by saying that: "Illegal logging is closely linked to corruption. As an alternative to fighting illegal logging, Indonesia's law on the eradication of corruption should be used. Indeed, there are several cases that can be used as precedent".

Professor Satrio presented his research findings by stating that: "It is easy to prove the act of illegal logging. However, the challenge is to reach and prosecute the kingpins behind the illegal operations". He went on to say that that: "Alternative laws and regulations should be used against the perpetrators and better coordination among law enforcement officers is necessary".

At the end of the talk, a lively question-and-answer session took place involving over 50 representatives of the public sector, civil society groups, international donors, universities and the media.