13 May 2005

Indonesian crackdown on illegal logging in Papua fails to snare key figures

1:54 pm on 13 May 2005

Environmental agencies say the government crackdown on illegal logging in Indonesia's Papua province has failed to catch those behind the lucrative trade.

In a press statement, the Environmental Investigation Agency and its local anti-logging partner, Telapak, say while the crackdown has cut shipments to China and arrested 173 suspects, none were influential figures.

In March, the Indonesian government launched a two-month operation to stop the illegal export of logs from Papua to China.

That followed a report in February by the two environmental groups, which said they had uncovered the world's biggest smuggling racket involving a single type of wood.

Telapak Forest Campaigner Yayat Afianto says although they recognise the operation has had an immediate effect on reducing illegal logging, the operation will be ineffective if the major criminal networks are not broken.

He says the government is well aware of some politicians and top officials in Papua and Jakarta being behind illegal logging, yet there's no evidence of them being investigated.