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    Indonesia has a critical deforestation problem. It began with the overbuilding of pulp and paper mills under Suharto and his infamous "real forestry minister" and golf partner, Bob Hasan, who centrally controlled the logging concessions in the country. After that regime ended, a policy of decentralization was put in place to prevent such concentrations of power - but the mills remained in place:

    Lack of clarity over who has ultimate authority, Jakarta or the regional authority, has left power in the hands of villages and regional economic development authorities friendly to logging. LATIN, Indonesian environmental org, says the environmental and decentralizing egulations are contradictory. "At the highest level there's uncertainty because the decentralization law is in contradiction with the national forestry law... At the district level there's greater certainty about the responsibilities districts have assumed for economic development... the situation is amenable to the sort of over-exploitation seen now..." It will depend on the President's office and on the military, which has conflicts of interest. Until then, it is up to lower levels of government, typically down to the village level:

    While only a few villages are refusing to sell forests, most, like Pelenchao (sic?), have sold large areas of old-growth forest. It's dilemma is rather typical:

    While YaYa Lang, their village chief, claims the villagers have suffered worse water quality due to erosion, and seeks to protect tracts of sago, rattan, aloe wood for harvesting on a sustainable basis, there is no long term plan in place, and the cash payments distributed to villagers by logging companies are very popular. Without assistance for non-timber forest product market development, under such programs as Ten Thousand Villages and other fair trade groups, and environmental service payments for such nature's services as erosion prevention, it seems unlikely that any substantial forest areas can be saved. But even just logging has led to serious conflicts:

    One community had traditional regulations enroached by logging companies from neighbouring villages, and confiscated equipment to stop logging. Similar tactics have been used to get attention, or sometimes to settle disputes.

    The problem is profound and has been noticed internationally:

    Many initiatives are being undertaken government to government, but these are generally too high-level to matter: Asia Forest Partnership, promotes sustainable forest management. Mike Macnamara, AU federal dept of agriculture, fishing and forestry, says "the question for Australia is one of resource and spreading the resources we have...what contribution we might be able to make... we've adopted a 'contribute as we can' approach... any effort that is designed to preserve forests and their contribution to developing economies..." But it appears words are cheap.

    Most partnership is at operational level, codes of practice, etc., but do not in themselves address the underlying problem: governments. Not a matter for international resolution. Probably only pressure on government from inside has any potential to stop the deforestation and related ape genocide and other extinction.

    Source: "Earthbeat"