About a third of the wood used by Indonesia’s forestry industry came from clear-cutting natural forests and other illegal sources in 2014, according to a study released on Tuesday. Raw material from illegal sources used by pulp and paper mills exceeded legal supply by the equivalent of 20 million cubic meters last year, according to a report by Washington D.C.-based Forest Trends and the Anti Forest-Mafia Coalition, which groups Indonesian civil society organizations. With the two major Indonesian paper company claiming to have a “Zero Deforestation” policy in place, something looks to be wrong.
The study compared data from the country’s forestry ministry and timber industry, which it said doesn’t have enough supply from legal timber plantations to full capacity. The report shows the ineffectiveness of a government moratorium on permits to clear natural forests. Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who took office in October promising to restore degraded forests, has combined the ministries of forestry and environment and last month disbanded an agency assigned to reduce emissions from deforestation.
The gap in legal wood supply will grow by at least 10 million cubic meters if pulp and paper mills operate at full capacity and would jump to over 44 million if new pulp mills were to be built, the study estimated. The industry currently operates at less than 80 percent of capacity.
“Indonesia should expand its moratorium on new concessions to prevent any increase in processing capacity until the gap is closed,” Michael Jenkins, chief executive officer of Forest Trends, said in an e-mailed statement.
Indonesia’s moratorium on new permits to develop peat lands and primary forests is due to expire in May this year. The ban is part of an agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions in return for $1 billion from Norway.
Indonesia lost more than 6 million hectares of its primary forest, an area the size of England, from 2000 to 2012, scientists including Belinda Arunarwati Margono and Fred Stolle wrote in Nature Climate Change in June 2014. Deforestation and the use of fire for clearing forests is Indonesia’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, making the country the world’s fourth-largest producer of carbon dioxide, they said.