UNODC Indonesia trains Central Kalimantan forest rangers in law enforcement
Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan (Indonesia), 15 June 2012 - Across the planet, the forests of Indonesia are the ones which are disappearing fastest.
The cause? Illegal logging, the illicit trafficking of natural resources, and deforestation for planting palm oil trees. Dig deeper and the real causes are corruption, ineffective management, and lax law enforcement.
The result? Indonesia loses 1.6 - 2.8 million hectares of forests annually. This is equivalent to losing 4 - 7 football pitches per minute. Much of this loss is "old growth" forests which have taken hundreds - sometimes thousands - of years to come to maturity.
If Indonesia is to improve the governance of its environmental natural resources, it must also improve law enforcement within its forestry sector.
As part of a plan to strengthen law enforcement, UNODC recently conducted a training course for forest rangers at the REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) training centre in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan.
This training course was developed to increase the capacity of forest rangers to investigate offences related to trafficking of forest products such as timber and wildlife. "Investing in the capacity of forest rangers is the best way to secure a future for our forests and to reinforce the Rule of Law," says Dr. Siun Jarias, Regional Secretary, Central Kalimantan Province.
Central Kalimantan is the main pilot project province for the REDD+ programme. The REDD+ programme was developed through a cooperative agreement between the Government of Indonesia and Norway, and aimed at reducing emissions of greenhouse gases from deforestation.
Illegal harvesting of forest products contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, therefore illegal logging is recognized as a major threat to the success of REDD+ programmes, especially if the forest offences are operated on large scale.
"Forest rangers represent the last line of defence in the protection of our forested areas," says Ajit Joy, UNODC Country Manager in Indonesia. "This is why we need to support them. But the battle to protect Indonesian biodiversity needs to be fought also outside the forests, especially in the court rooms where such crimes need to be systematically prosecuted and adequately punished."
The Indonesia Forestry Ministry states that trends of illegal logging cases have decreased significantly in the last 5 years, by 81.7 per cent from 2005-2010. Nevertheless, the Forestry Ministry also acknowledges that illegal logging activities are still on-going in forest-rich areas, including those in Central Kalimantan. The Indonesia NGO "Corruption Watch" also estimates that US$1 billion was lost in state revenue in Kalimantan during the past year alone. This figure represents the importance of dealing with corruption alongside environmental crime.
There are various factors that contribute to illegal logging in Indonesia. These include strong market demand for products, irrespective of their legality, weak forest management capacities, conflicts among policies at national and regional levels, poor inter-institutional coordination, corruption, sub-standard law enforcement apparatus, and ineffective law enforcement.
The training of forest rangers is one objective in the UNODC project "Countering Illegal Logging and the linkage between Forest Crime and Corruption in Indonesia", financed by the Royal Norwegian Government. The project seeks to enable local authorities and law enforcement to respond to both illegal logging and corruption. Through collaboration with the Ministry of Forestry and the Corruption Eradication Commission, the role of corruption in forest crimes must be eradicated in order to preserve the forests of Indonesia for future generations.