Logging blamed for Sumatra floods

Experts say floods will recur unless rampant deforestation is stopped.

    Last week's floods left 400,000 people displaced [EPA]

    Timber needs


    Post-tsunami reconstruction work is also contributing to deforestation in the province. The Aceh-Nias Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency [BRR] has procured 36 per cent of its timber for post-tsunami reconstruction efforts from the seven Aceh regencies currently submerged by floods, the group said.


    "[These floods are] not the first time disasters like these have happened and the lesson still hasn't been learnt," said Togu Manurung, a professor at the Bogor Institute of Agriculture.


    M Arman Mallolongan, the forestry ministry's director general, told the Jakarta Post that even with greater awareness this week's floods could not have been prevented, because too much has been lost and there is no easy fix.


    "We knew it would happen, but to regreen all of the denuded areas takes time," he told the daily.


    And with high demand for Indonesian timber and the spread of palm plantations across the archipelago reforestation may not keep pace with deforestation.


    "I flew over Riau [province on Sumatra] recently and saw massive destruction in the area designated for the expansion of the Tesso Nilo National Park," said Manurung.


    Mallolongan said his ministry had not issued any logging permits in Aceh.


    Irwandi Yusuf, the former rebel leader who was confirmed the gubernatorial winner of Aceh's first direct election held on December 11, vowed on Thursday to fight illegal logging in the impoverished province.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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