Hamburg, 29 September 1997
Today, two representatives from Rettet den Regenwald (Rainforest Rescue) met with the Indonesian Consul Mr Agus Syarif Budiman at the Indonesian General Consulate in Hamburg.
They expressed to the Indonesian Government their deep sorrow for the victims of recent accidents. They presented a paper containing questions concerning the forest fires, timber and plantation industry and efforts undertaken by the Indonesian government (see appendix below)
The consul stated that the fires have severe consequenses for Indonesia and that they were caused by small farmers.
He had not received any information from his government and said that he could not answer any questions before he gets an official statement from Jakarta.
However, he stated that tourism in Kalimantan, Sumatra and Irian Jaya has been affected by the fires and that many inquiries from tourists and travel agencies are beeing sent to the Consulate.
Rettet den Regenwald was assured that the queries would be passed on to Indonesian government and that the consul would ask for a soon reply and the delivery of the relevant documents.
On Friday 26, members of Rettet den Regenwald and one African Organisation had set up a one hour demonstration in front of the Indonesian consulate. The activists were helding a banner saying: President Suharto, stop the killing of people and nature.
QUERIES ON FOREST FIRES, PREVENTIVE ACTIONS AND THE SCOPE OF DEFORESTATION IN INDONESIA:
1. In 1994, there has also been forest fires, of which neigbouring countries such as Malaysia and Singapore were heavily affected by the haze. There had been meetings held between these countries.
-What AGREEMENTS and what ACTIONS have been undertaken right after and since 1994 forest fires?.
- The meeting of ASEAN environment ministers recently in Jakarta, should have again produced joint-AGGREEMENTS and ACTIONS to prevent future fires. What are the aggreements and what are the actions decided?
- Please specify in detail and send us those relevant documents: the ASEAN Joint-aggreements as well Indonesian (language) documents which show that all related departments (ministries) in Indonesia have produced since forest fires in 1994 and current forest fires to prevent/prohibit the use of fires by logging companies (HPH) , (cash crop) plantation companies , Transmigration companies and industrial timber estate companies (HTI).
- Could you send us the relevant documents and, explain why President Suharto in his recent Presidential decision (Keppres), only prohibit the use of fires starting the period November this year? Does this mean that the use of fires until this period is still permitted by the government of Indonesia?
2. We know that the logging companies, timber industry are the ones who have the SAY in forest exploitation activities in Indonesia. Despite plausible and courageous statements and actions by the Indonesian ministers for Environment (Sarwono Kusumaatmadja) and Forestry (Dajamaluddin Suryohadikusumo) - in which it has been admitted that this year's detectable forest fires have mostly been found in large scale plantations, logging concessions, areas to be allocated for transmigration sites and industrial timber estates -, we are gravely concerned on the statements of Mr. "Bob" Hasan, chairman of the Indonesian Forestry Community (MPI), in which efforts have been made to blame poor farmers and shifting-cultivators. What is your position on this ?
Please specify the names of all companies related to Mr. "Bob" Hasan involved in logging activities, cash-crop plantation activities, industrial timber estates in Indonesia? Could inform us how big are extent (in millions of hectares) of forest and land owned?
3. Again this year's and past forest fires, in our opinion, should be related to the extent of DEFORESTATION in Indonesia, by plantations, logging companies, transmigration programmes and mono-culture timber estates. El Nino plays only a climatic factor, but degraded forests, cleared forests, available biomass and greedy habits of the Indonesian companies (by using fires, instead of using save and responsible methods) are the direct factors for the extent and spreading of fires. The Government of Indonesia (GOI) has also promoted ambitions to make Indonesia the world's paper and pulp producer, meaning more forests will be exploited or even vanished within one decade when political conditions in relation to forest exploitation remain the same in Indonesia.
Could you inform us by specifying the extent of forest land which have been given away for plantations, logging companies, transmigration programmes and mono-culture timber estates and about its geographic position, since 1990?
Could you provide us the names of those companies which are being categorized as CONGLOMERATES in Indonesia, their extent of landownership and on which islands are they to be found?
4. Investment in palm-oil plantations by Malaysian companies or investors has ben seen increasing in Indonesia. What is the extent of Malaysian related investment in palm-oil and other cash-crop plantations, from 1990 until today in Indonesia?
Malaysia is one of the worst affected neigbouring countries by the Indonesian forest fires. But, at the same time Malaysia's growth in consumption and production of timber products, paper (including of the "welfare" of its people) may be related to the degradation of natural forests in Indonesia. For almost two decades the media, unpublished researches and anonym reports have been reporting of timber being smuggled from Indonesia to the eastern and western coast of Malaysia to supply industry's needs.
Are you in the position to confirm, research and take actions against these alleged timber smuggling from Indonesia to the Malaysian territories?. How are controls and actions being undertaken against this cross-boundary timber smuggling?
5. If the ASEAN countries are seen to be indecisive in current or past forest fires in Indonesia, is this because those who are in power in these countries are unable to make a halt to this inter-related questions, e.g. forest fires - increasing deforestation in Indonesia - the unsustainable growth of timber industries in countries such as Malaysia ?
Wed, 1 Oct 1997
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