Greenpeace Slams Plan to Auction Forestry Permits

JAKARTA ~ Environmental watchdog Greenpeace has protested the government’s plans to auction permits to log old forests in Kalimantan and Papua, home to a rich variety of plant and animal life.

Within two weeks, forest lands in 16 locations, including Papua, Kalimantan on Borneo island and on the islands of Sulawesi, Maluku and Sumatra, will be offered for bids.

“More than one million hectares of forest lands, or twice the size of Bali, will be offered on the chopping block.

“Instead of taking drastic measures to reverse the destruction of our remaining forests, the Forestry Ministry is hell-bent on issuing new permits to the highest bidders,” Greenpeace Southeast Asia campaigner Hapsoro said in a statement on Wednesday.

Greenpeace activists dressed as rich entrepreneurs threw sacks of “money” at other protestors acting as forestry officials in a mock auction of Indonesia’s forests in front of the ministry’s office in Jakarta.

Indonesia loses about 2.8 million hectares of forests each year — among the highest rates in the world.

Conservationists and scientists say deforestation reduces the capacity of the ecosystem to regulate the water and also leads to soil erosion and landslides.

Flash floods and landslides in the north of Sumatra that killed 100 and displaced more than 400,000 people in December were blamed on deforestation.

Indonesia has lost more than 72 percent of its intact ancient forest areas, according to Greenpeace.

Kalimantan and Papua have some of the last areas of Indonesian rainforest and are home to a rich variety of plant and animal life, with new discoveries being made on an almost monthly basis.

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