Forestry monitoring is one of the efforts to save forests from the threat of forest degradation and deforestation, due to land conversion and unauthorized logging. The involvement of indigenous peoples is critical to ensuring that forests remain sustainable.
VOA — Independent monitoring of forestry is an important part of the Timber Legality Verification System (SVLK), which is the government's effort to ensure the governance and utilization of forests according to their designation. However, in practice, logging and unauthorized use of timber, as well as not in accordance with laws and regulations, are still common in Indonesia.
The findings of the Mangkubumi Environmental Education Center (PPLH), during the period from 2020 to 2021, there have been a number of violations related to logging and utilization of forest timber by holders of Timber Legality Certificates (S-LK). These violations include logging outside the Annual Work Plan and outside its concession permit, forgery of timber documents, and the practice of buying and selling V-Legal documents by non-producer exporters.
PPLH Mangkubumi Spokesperson, Agus Budi Purwanto, said that the practice of unauthorized logging is still rife in a number of forest areas in Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Papua, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Agus said that the mode of illegal timber smuggling was carried out by mixing processed wood, namely from legitimate sources with unauthorized sources.
"In areas for example in Maluku and Kalimantan, it's a mutation of wood that is usually inserted that's from a log, which rounds into blocks and components. Well, that's usually a mixing opportunity. So, the opportunity for mixing is definitely in tandem with the process of changing the shape of the wood. So, mixing illegal and legal wood occurs together with the process of the wood changing shape, because it will be difficult to track it again," said Agus Budi Purwanto.
The Number of Independent Monitors Is Not Proportional to the Area of The Forest
The number of independent forestry monitors, which is only 500, as well as law enforcement personnel in the forestry sector, which numbers about a thousand people, are considered inadequate to supervise large forest areas and industries numbering in the thousands.
Agus said that the difficulty of accessing data by independent forestry monitors at wood processing companies and government agencies has been an obstacle to monitoring so far.
In addition, the reporting requirements of independent monitors for violations by companies, according to Agus, should be an evaluation of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and law enforcement officials, as a commitment to forest protection and preservation.
"If with those limitations, we have to report to law enforcement with a detailed requerment, there is evidence and so on, then what is our power? Don't have that power. Precisely with the key to the initial information, we hope that Gakkum, then the certification body (do) the follow-up, will enter there," said Agus.
The difficulty of accessing data and locations that are suspected to be the place of unauthorized logging of forest timber is also experienced by Wancino, an independent monitor from Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan. The practice of crime in the field of forestry, Wancino said, happened openly and there was no concrete action to stop it. Meanwhile, the supervision carried out by independent monitors together with indigenous peoples, actually faces intimidation and terror from officials and companies.
"The main guard is the real community, to guard this forest. Only, so far, they have been intimidated, terrorized, yes by the company and the authorities. But the existence of this SVLK policy is a bright spot for indigenous peoples that they can contribute to forestry governance, and protect forests," said Wancino.
Despite encountering obstacles in reporting and enforcement in the field, Wancino believes that the Timber Legality Verification System (SVLK), together with monitoring carried out by the community, is a good governance scheme in ensuring that forests are maintained and sustainable.
"Our hope is that in the future, let's be together, from the bottom, let's take care of the forest together, so we don't play around with the rules to destroy the forest, whether from the district, provincial, or court level," Wancino said.
"If we work together, I think our forests are maintained, and for the next generation to remain intact. So we do not leave an unhealthy environment, because of disasters, floods, forest and land fires, that is one of them because we ourselves are not aware that we have exhausted our forests in inappropriate ways," he explained.
The National Coordinator of the Independent Forestry Monitoring Network (JPIK), Muhammad Ichwan, asked the government to continue to maintain its commitment to reduce the rate of deforestation and forest degradation in accordance with the Paris agreement. Ichwan also encouraged the government to immediately extend the moratorium on oil palm permits in forest areas, as a form of commitment to reduce the rate of deforestation.
"We encourage the government to continue to commit to immediately reducing the deforestation rate, even though in fact as of March 2021, the deforestation rate decreased, only 145,000 H, which the government claims," he said.
"But if we look at it in the field, there are still many clearings of forest areas, outside for forestry functions, both for oil palm land clearing, be it for mining needs, for other non-forestry activities that affect forest cover. Well, in the end, there was deforestation," Ichwan exclaimed.[pr/em]