24 Jan 2003

Indonesia's proposed mining policy uplans to change national forest laws undermines Papua's special

4:55 pm on 24 January 2003

World Wildlife Fund Indonesia says government plans to allow open pit mining in protect forest areas will devalue Papua's special autonomy status.

Its director, Benja Mambai, says the new National Forest Law would override laws passed by Papua's provincial parliament aimed at protecting its natural resources.

This comes amid accusations by NGOs that Jakarta is surrendering to pressure from mining companies which want to exploit minerals inside protected forests.

Mr Mambai says the proposals go against Papua's special autonomy status which gave it the right to protect the region's forests.

"I think it's a big problem for Papua because Papua have mining deposits. We tried to make special law for forestry based on Special autonomy, we worked together with forestry department, local NGO in Papua and local university."

Benja Mambai, WWF Indonesia.

Other environmenatal groups say open pit mining will double the annual deforestation rate of 2.5 million hectares and endanger the cultures of indigenous tribes as well as flora and fauna.

Meanwhile, Indonesia's Minister of Forests, M. Prakosa has come out against amending forest laws saying that his ministry has no thoughts towards changing the current law.