Bogor, 12 February 2019. 60 civil society organizations that are members of the Independent Forest Monitoring Network (JPIK) assess the issuance of Minister of Environment and Forestry Regulation No. 106 of 2018 will have an impact on the increasing rate of natural forest loss in Indonesia. This regulation has freed the protection status of previously protected endemic wood species so that it is free to be used and traded.

PermenLHK No. 106 of 2018 as the second amendment to PermenLHK No. 20 of 2018 has changed the status of 10 timber species from the enclosed list of protected timber. Most of them are included in rare and endangered categories. These wood species include; iron / Merbau Maluku (Intsia palembanica), Ulin (Eusideroxylon zwagery), Pilau resin (Agathis bornensis), Palahlar Mursala (Dipterocarpus cinereus), Nusakambangan Palahlar (Dipterocarpus littolaris), Kokoleceran (Vatica bantamensis), Upan (Upuna bornensis), Medang lahu (Beilschmiedia madang), Kempas Malaka (Koompasia malaccensis), Kempas Kayu Raja (Koompasia exselsa). These species grow naturally in natural forests with increasingly depleted populations.

One of the considerations in the amendment to this rule is the large number of business licenses for the utilization of natural forest forest products (IUPHHK-HA) which cut down protected wood species in the process of structuring forest products. Another thing is the emergence of legal problems when IUPHHK-HA cuts timber with protected status in the concession work area so that the supply of raw materials in the downstream sector is constrained.

Dhio Teguh Ferdyan, a JPIK campaigner, said that the concession given by the government to IUPHHK-HA permit holders is in contrast to the spirit of biodiversity protection and law enforcement from previous regulations. Moreover, 8 of the 10 types of wood based on the IUCN red list are categorized as critical, precarious, and vulnerable species, even 5 of which are endemic species.

“Taking into account the low population and the high level of threat, the KLHK should continue to make the species in the protected category, instead of opening opportunities and giving freedom of use to endangered wood,” said Dhio.

Examine ulin as one of the wood species whose status changes to be unprotected, is wood that is considered sacred by the Dayak indigenous people. The ulin connection with the Dayak indigenous people is not only to fulfill the needs of wood for long houses and statues as symbols, more than that ulin has a close connection with the culture of the Dayak indigenous people. “For them losing ulin means the loss of identity and culture, because for the indigenous people the ulin tree is not worth the amount of cubication, but the leaves, stems and fruit contain inseparable meanings for the Dayak indigenous people,” said Ahmad SJA Director of PADI Indonesia.

The enactment of PermenLHK No. 106 of 2018 is feared to open space for hunters of exotic timber of high economic value to trade massively, eventually becoming signs of destruction of biodiversity.

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