Sunday, April 23, 2006

Indonesia's Pristine Forests In Danger

The last of Indonesia's pristine forests, in the remote province of Papua, are under threat and all commercial logging there should be halted, environment watchdog groups said.

"A handful of logging companies have wiped out much of Indonesia's forests. They must be stopped from finishing off our last intact forests in Papua," Emmy Hafild, from international environment group Greenpeace, told a press conference here.

She said that the government must put in place "a moratorium on large-scale commercial logging activists" in the intact forest landscapes of Indonesia, starting with Papua.

A large swathe of Papua's forests - where researchers recently discovered dozens of new plant and animal species - have already been allocated to logging companies that export timber to Japan, China, the European Union and the United States, said environmentalists.

"More than a quarter of forests in Papua have been sold off to logging companies," Christian Poerba, from Forest Watch Indonesia told the same press conference, pointing out that the logging concessions were for periods of between 20-30 years.

Scientists from Conservation International last December found a virtual "lost world" home to dozens of new species, including frogs, butterflies, and an orange-faced honeyeater bird in Papua's remote Foja mountains.

Greenpeace feared that "large-scale commercial logging is about to cut through the rainforest 'Eden' in Papua," the group said in a statement issued at the press conference. Indonesia has already lost 72 percent of its intact forests, and deforestation rates in the archipelago are among the highest in the world, Greenpeace says.

Greenpeace said the world's forests were in "critical condition" with less than ten percent of the earth's land area covered in intact forests.

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