Alexa

Report: Indonesian military runs illegal logging

Report: Indonesian military runs illegal logging

Indonesia's military is deeply involved in illegal logging that threatens some of the world's largest remaining forest, university researchers said Friday.
Officials in the military and police covertly finance, coordinate or enable logging rackets in vast jungle, the second largest in the world after the Amazon.
Researchers at the University of Indonesia and the International NGO Forum for Indonesian Development said in a report published Thursday that corruption and weak forest management enabled the syndicates to thrive.
Military spokesman Sagom Tamboen said he was "not sure" if illegal logging was carried out by the military today, but that Indonesia has a culture of corruption that is hard to break.
Indonesia is routinely ranked by Transparency International as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, with graft deeply entrenched in the judiciary, military and parliament.
Indonesia's jungles are being torn down at an alarming rate to clear land for palm oil plantations or other industries, destroying the habitat of endangered species such as tigers, orangutans and elephants.
The destruction is partly to blame for Indonesia's ranking as the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the United States and China, mainly due to the release of carbon stored in the forests.
The research focused on activity between 1999 and 2006 in the Indonesia-Malaysia border region of East Kalimantan on Borneo island.
Military officials "received bribes from syndicates involved in illegal logging in both Indonesia and Malaysia," said Tirta Mursitama, the lead researcher who headed fieldwork in 2007, including interviews with people involved.
Mursitama said the logging was carried out openly in the past _ when Indonesia's military oversaw a vast empire under late dictator Suharto _ but has gone underground since it was prohibited from running private businesses.
The syndicates rely on corrupt police and military officers who take huge bribes to allow shipments of timber out of the country and forge deals with local communities to cut the timber and guard logging sites, it found.