BANDA ACEH, KOMPAS – Environmental sustainability in Aceh is increasingly threatened due to illegal logging that continues to occur in forest areas. On March 17, a joint team from the Great Hall of Mount Leuser National Park, the Aceh Regional Police and the forestry service confiscated 105 cubic meters of illegal timber from the forests of South Aceh.

Leuser National Park chief Andi Basrul, contacted from Banda Aceh, Wednesday (26/3), said the seizure was carried out after his team received a report from the public about illegal logging in the Bakongan forest area, South Aceh.

The Leuser National Park then coordinated with a number of agencies, including the Aceh Regional Police, the Aceh Natural Resources Conservation Agency, and the South Aceh Forestry and Plantation Service. Then, a number of agencies combed the Bakongan forest area on March 17.

There, a joint team from Leuser National Park discovered 105 cubic of illegal wood allegedly owned by a wood refinery owner named Zamzami. The majority of these illegal logs are meranti (Shorea).

The illegal logs were immediately confiscated and taken by nine trucks to the Leuser National Park Office, Medan, North Sumatra, on March 25 afternoon. “We will immediately check Zamzami at the Aceh Regional Police. It does not rule out the possibility that many people are involved in illegal logging in Aceh, especially South Aceh,” Andi said.

Andi continued, he had confiscated illegal timber in Leuser National Park four times this year, which are 8 cubic meters of illegal timber in two Langkat (North Sumatra) forest areas in January, 4 cubic of illegal wood in Southeast Aceh forests in February and 105 cubic meters illegal timber in the forests of South Aceh in March.

“Illegal logging continues. This can threaten environmental sustainability in Leuser National Park, which is mostly in Aceh,” he said.

The Aceh Forestry Independent Monitoring Network Focal Point, Jes Putra Kluet, said, based on data from the Aceh Forest Environment Program conducted by Flora Fauna Internasional and Leuser International Foundation 2008/2009, forest destruction in Aceh reached 23,000 hectares per year.

Referring to the results of a survey of a number of timber industry players in Aceh by Transparency International Indonesia 2013, forest destruction in Aceh was 99 percent due to the rampant illegal logging. This takes into account the 200,000 cubic meters of timber per year for raw material production in Aceh.

Then, they compared the government’s decision to temporarily halt deforestation in Aceh as the Aceh Governor’s Instruction Number 5 of 2007 concerning the Enforcement of the Logging Moratorium. “Where else can the raw material production needs of the wood industry players come from illegal logging,” said Jes.

Secretary of the Aceh Forest People Forum (Fora) Azhar expressed, Aceh’s forests store a wealth of flora and fauna. The Aceh Fora notes that Aceh’s forest is home to rare species of fauna in Indonesia, including around 5,500 Sumatran forest people (Pongo abelii) and around 400 Sumatran elephants.

Source: Print Kompas