20 Feb 2007

Indonesian minister says illegal logging in Papua is decreasing

5:07 pm on 20 February 2007

Indonesia's Minister of Environment says illegal logging in Papua province is decreasing but more work needs to be done to reduce the illegal timber trade.

Rachmat Witoelar says the international demand for hardwood, particularly kwila, is fuelling environmentally damaging, illegal logging in Papua.

Kwila trees take up to 100 years to grow, are difficult to regenerate, and are becoming commercially extinct.

Environmental groups are expressing concern about the rapid depletion of Papua's rain forest, and have asked international governments, including New Zealand's, to ban the import of all tropical kwila.

Mr Witoelar says it's hard to keep Papua's native forests in tact while corrupt loggers still have a market demanding its timber.

"Elements who are corrupt, they deal in this and because there are buyers from outside. So we have to stem both the outflow and the purchase, the market. If we reduce the market then there won't be any motives for the illegal loggers the perpetrators, to repeat themselves."

Indonesia's Minister of the Environment, Rachmat Witoelar