20 Feb 2007

Indonesian government pleas for international timber buyers to ensure wood is legal

7:46 pm on 20 February 2007

Indonesia's Minister of Environment has appealed to the international timber market to stop buying uncertified tropical timber from places like Papua province.

Rachmat Witoelar says the international demand for hardwood, particularly kwikla, 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.

An increasing number of 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 admits it's hard to stop the international trade of illegal timber.

"It is very difficult to close the gates because we are so open. We have so many islands and so many exits. So we have to take care of our own but then the market has to close. If there's any suspicion that it's wood particular to Papua, if we can withhold this, stop purchasing them, it would help our effort to keep our forests in tact."

Indonesia's Minister of Environment Rachmat Witoelar