Logging road tests Sumatra pact

Indonesia's newly announced commitment to saving forest area on the island of Sumatra is facing an early test, following revelations that a paper company has pushed a logging highway through prime Sumatran tiger habitat. The existence of the 45-kilometre road – cleared by Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) – was revealed in a report by the Eyes of the Forest group of NGOs.


The highway – the third controversial logging road associated with APP — runs through protected areas, proposed protected areas and deep peat areas banned from clearing because of their massive carbon stores.


Eyes of the Forest – which includes WWF-Indonesia and local NGOs Jikalahri and Walhi Riau – revealed the road’s existence on Monday, just over a week after Indonesia and Sumatran officials announced a commitment to protect the natural forests and ecosystems of the world’s sixth-largest island. The ministers of forestry, environment, interior and public works – plus all 10 Sumatran provincial governors – pledged their protection at the World Conservation Congress in Barcelona, Spain. 


The central Sumatran province of Riau has recorded some of the world’s highest deforestation rates. Currently, a province-wide de facto logging moratorium is in place as police conduct an illegal-logging investigation involving APP and other companies. NGOs accuse the company of using the moratorium to put roads and other infrastructure in place for a renewed assault on Sumatra’s forests.


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