Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Irresponsible Logging the Main Cause of Rapid Deforestation in West Papua

by Charles Roring, Manokwari, West Papua

Papuan forest continues to shrink rapidly due to irresponsible logging. We definitely have to stop this. Here in Papua, logging is legal if loggers have got the license to do so. To obtain a license letter, loggers must pay certain amount of money to forestry agency as contribution to the state for every log they cut. Being a legal logger does not mean that somebody is a responsible one.logs-transported-to-big-city.JPGIn recent days the demand for wood in local market is getting higher caused by rapid increase of population in Papua. Such increase is not caused by the improvement in birth rate of native people but more on the massive influx of migrants from other parts of Indonesian islands. I said earlier that the higher the population, the higher the demand for wood as construction material. According supply and demand law, the price of wooden blocks and planks in local market is going up.Another factor for the increase of logging activities in Papua is the practice of logging companies that continue their operation using the reason of opening roads to remote villages in the isolated interior region. While the width of the roads is only four meters, in practice, the width made by the cutting of the trees can reach up to twenty or thirty meters.In my previous article I emphasized my rejection on the conversion of Papuan tropical rainforest into massive monoculture Sawit Plantation using a leasing scheme. The continuous rising of the price of fossil fuel has triggered the use of palm oil for making biodiesel. Supporters of biodiesel say that by increasing the percentage of bio-fuel such as bio-ethanol and bio-diesel in our vehicles, we can reduce our dependence on fossil fuel thus making significant reduction in CO2e

emissions.

I don't think such perception is true. I don't reject bio-ethanol and bio-diesel projects. What I reject is the deforestation of the pristine rainforest both in West Papua and Brazil and many other regions around the world where there are forests. Sawit is a native plant of Africa. It should not be introduced massively into South East Asia region. Such invasive plants will harm the whole ecosystem of the region.If bio-ethanol companies want to make environmentally friendly bio-fuel products and at the same time improve the living condition of the Papuans, they could take advantage the available Arenga Pinnata forest located along the rivers and the swampy areas in Southern Papua. Huge areas of Aren trees (Arenga Pinnata) can produce millions of liters of sweet sap every day. If bio-ethanol companies really want to take it. They don't have to cut any single tree from the region. They can harvest the sap to produce bio ethanol and at the same time hire the local people for collecting the sap. In addition, these plants are native ones and have thrived in the region for hundreds or even thousands of years. The taking of Aren sap will not destroy the environment.Or they can move on to another innovative project such as utilizing the CO2 wastes for growing algae plantation in the Berau bay of West Papua. An LNG plant operated by British Petroleum produces 12.5% of its natural gas stream in the form of CO2 that is released into the air. Bio-fuel company like PT Medco Papua Hijau Selaras should work together with BP LNG Tangguh in producing bio-fuel from algae that needs a lot of CO2. I think this is one of the best alternatives that bio-fuel companies should do to achieve their goal and at the same save the earth from global warming.Technorati :