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Last Stand of the Orangutan

Countering Illegal Logging - Measures and their Effect

The “Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG)” process is a particularly important response to the current wave of forest crime in Indonesia. FLEG is a continuous harnessing of national efforts and improvement of international collaboration to address violations of forest laws and illegal activities. The aim of FLEG is to eradicate illegal logging and associated illegal trade and corruption, and in the long term to promote sustainable management and protection of the world’s remaining forests. FLEG is a global effort, and in East Asia it started with a series of consultations leading up to a political commitment known as the Bali Declaration in 2001. Although not legally binding, the declaration is considered a significant step by governments in acknowledging the need to combat corruption in the forestry sector. It recognizes the responsibilities of both producing and consuming countries to eliminate illegal logging and illicit trade and corruption, and provides a base for bilateral and international cooperation in harmonizing forest law enforcement and protection programmes.

To implement FLEG, a number of potential responses are possible. While all are rational and well intended, only a few can be expected to have any significant short term impact on the current state of rapid deforestation and degradation of critical orangutan habitat. The empowerment and sustainable development of local communities is critical to enable their custodianship of natural habitats over the longer term, but immediate targeted actions are required to deal with the existing crisis. Effective responses must:

  • target root causes and key actors
  • be rapid in effect
  • be effective in the face of existing power structures (risk of coercion and reprisals, corruption, dysfunctional institutions)
  • address impacts over large areas to avoid simply displacing the problem.

Table 3: Probable timescale and effects of impacts of conservation measures on illegal logging.

Probable effects    
Responses Short term Long term Conditions, forces Recommended actions
International law enforcement Moderate High Potentially highly effective, but politically, legally, institutionally and economically very demanding Laws in consumer countries against imports of illegally harvested timber. Embargos, trade control International agreements on law enforcement and prosecution International surveillance and reporting on crimes
Domestic law enforcement High High Highly and directly effective if implemented efficiently and extensively in threatened areas. May increase violence, but can result in increased deterrence of future illegal activities Specialized enforcement units Arming and paramilitary training of sufficient numbers of rangers under a separate command, extensive collaboration with police, Army and Navy and international experts and sufficient equipment
Amend national laws and regulations to strengthen law enforcement efforts Low Moderate/high Lack of common jurisdiction and sanctions across administrative borders hinders effective national law enforcement efforts Update and harmonize regulations across administrative borders, facilitate investigation and prosecution
Logging moratorium Moderate Moderate – high Can effectively curb legal and partly, illegal logging if sufficient surveillance is present Implement moratoriums in highly impacted areas, secure regional political and institutional support
Log export ban Low – moderate Moderate Smuggling will still prevail, corruption hinders effective control in most places Task force to control ports and transportation corridors
Reduce demand Low Moderate/high Impossible to achieve in short time due to market mechanisms. Questionable at large scale even in the long run due to the diversity and elusiveness in corporate structure and market mechanisms Laws in consumer countries against imports of illegally harvested timber, national compliance with FSC in major consumer countries
Reduce supply of illegal timber Low High Very difficult or impossible to achieve in the short term. Highly effective in the long run if supply can be controlled Implement systems of chain-of-custody to eliminate illegal wood from supply chain Compliance with FSC
Strengthen governance Low Moderate Requires institutional change to break link between conflict timber and corruption Minimize and control corruption Enhance fair law enforcement Resolve property conflicts
Combat corruption Low Moderate Corruption is rampant at all levels of institutions, affects all elements in supply chain of timber harvesting and concession system Prosecution of actors involved Public disclosure of cases involving public officials, timber mafia heads and corporations
Cut off shipping routes High High Very effective, but difficult to implement due to large number of ports, vessels and shipping lanes. Requires massive monitoring and law enforcement Task force to control ports and transportation corridors, seizure of log shipments at ports, quarantines of ships, prosecution of shipping compani4es and owners
Controlling access to protected areas High High High Surveillance and patrolling of salient timber and biodiversity habitats, blocking of illegal constructed roads, confiscation of equipment, closing of saw mills operating without concession
Financial regulation Low Moderate Good systems for private sector financing of the forest industry are lacking, creates unsustainable use and inappropriate incentives. Release of debt pressure on forest processing plants can have major effect on demand for forest resources Increase investments in the legitimate forest industry Resolve bank and debt issues related to forestry assets and non-performing loans
Monitoring Low Low (High) Important for assessment of forest conditions and response measures, no direct effect on actions Include monitoring in management plans for all national parks and buffer zones
General education Low Low/ moderate No short term effect on major driving forces or impact factors, possible moderate long term effects through increased awareness Integrate knowledge on environmental concerns and sustainable development in education curricula, both in consumer and producer countries
Public information disclosure Low Low Increased transparency and disclosure of critical information can sensitize some stakeholders and increase awareness Consumer awareness campaigns Ensure public access to monitoring data, especially within producer country
Advocacy Low/ moderate Low/ moderate Well targeted advocacy can disclose criminal actions, and/or mobilize powerful interests Targeting of root causes vs. powerful institutions
Strengthen public procurement and corporate social responsibility Low Moderate Improve corporate performance and transparency with time Transparent and reliable procedures for procurement, environmental actions and interactions with stakeholders
Community development/stakeholder participation Low Low – High While usually important in all resource management, can be ineffective against rapid, capital intensive resource exploitation by outsiders Compensation schemes, direct payments for conservation efforts; strengthening land rights (below); reduce poverty/improve livelihoods (below)
Strengthen land rights Low Low/ moderate Land tenure issues are generally disregarded by key actors in this context; but ownership creates an incentive to defend resources Land registration schemes, formalize land rights of indigenous populations. Support local communities in exercising forest related rights, entitlements and responsibilities
Promote sustainable development Low Low/ moderate Requires good governance, equitable management, land tenure control and inclusion of all actors. Sustainable land use strategies usually overrun by corporate interests Forestry information systems Management plans Public-private alliances to combat illegal logging Community development/stakeholder participation (above)
Reduce poverty/improve livelihoods Low Low/moderate Significant improvement in local livelihoods can offset unsustainable resource use, can be a slow process with minimal effect on rapid environmental degradation Development of sustainable income generating activities, regional development programs, social services, training, education

Sources: Illegal Logging Response Center 2006, USAID 2005, World Bank 2006, InWent 2003, FLEG 2006, Global Forest Watch; Schroeder-Wildberg & Carius 2003, FLEG 2006, CIFOR 2005, Wahli 2007.

Measures are therefore required to directly intervene with exploitation and distribution of timber in situ. Law enforcement including surveillance, patrolling, arrest and prosecution of actors involved in illegal harvesting will require a massive input to staffing, training and equipping/arming of personnel working in the national parks, but are of utmost importance to achieve a reduction in illegal logging. At a higher level, international cooperation around legal instruments and procedures to detect and seize illegal timber, and prosecute key players, thus cutting off the trade routes could have a very positive effect. Root causes such as supply and demand can be addressed with time and political will, but implementation is too complex to expect predictable results for the current crisis.
In 2005, the President of Indonesia issued Presidential Instruction No. 5 requiring government agencies with law enforcement responsibilities (a total of 18 altogether) to increase their efforts to combat illegal logging and also to increase efforts to combat illegal trade in wildlife. Indonesia has signed the Kinshasa Declaration, adopted at the Intergovernmental Meeting on Great Apes held in Democratic Republic of the Congo, in September 2005. This declaration sets the target of securing a constant and significant reduction in the current loss of great ape populations by 2010 and to secure the future of all species and subspecies of great apes in the wild by 2015 (GRASP 2005).

Illegal logging and oil palm plantations in protected areas are the result of poor law enforcement and lack of resources to allow effective monitoring and inspection. Illegal practice begins with the issue of permits and licenses to harvest timber and runs through to forest management regulation and inspection. Concessionaires easily get away with over-harvesting or harvesting outside areas allocated for exploitation, and purchasing wood on the black market from illegal sources. Punishment and fines for any such violations are rare. Combating illegal logging through certification processes, increased transparency, lowering corruption and strengthening systems for concessions is only possible with effective enforcement by well-trained and coordinated staff.

Currently, logging companies not only extensively use bribes, they are also better armed and equipped than most rangers, frequently employing security guards including foreign nationals and former police and military officers. Where efforts have been made to prosecute illegal loggers, the cases have often failed to make headway in the judicial system. Indeed, only around 10% of cases ever reach the courts.

Better coordination between government departments would also help to resolve the issue. The wood industry has an annual capacity for processing around 74 million m3 of timber, but the licensed harvest is in the region of only 23 million m3 (Schroeder-Wildberg and Carius 2003). Hence, the general capacity of the various mills is two to five times higher than the legal amount available. Despite knowledge of this state of affairs, it has proved difficult to reduce industry capacity because the Ministry of Forestry lacks the authority to withdraw operating licenses, a responsibility which lies with the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Indonesia has 9 700 forest rangers. Thirty-five national parks that the team was able to secure information from through the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Forestry had 2 155 field rangers to patrol an area of 108 000 km2 and generally no access to helicopters, aeroplanes, necessary arms or military patrolling skills that would enable them to prevent illegal activity. Currently, logging companies not only extensively use bribes, they are also better armed and equipped than most rangers, frequently employing security guards. If the rangers had the necessary training, communication, transport and arms, even a relatively small force would be able to effectively conduct surveillance and reconnaissance, and when required, prevent illegal intrusions with the appropriate force.