Logging Concessions in Rainforests: Harapan, Sumatra

mini-sumatra-rainforest.jpgEighty per cent of Sumatra’s rich lowland forest is estimated to have been destroyed in the past 30 years. Deforestation in Indonesia accounts for about two thirds of its greenhouse gas emissions, making it the world’s third largest carbon dioxide polluter. Between 2000 and 2005, an area of forest equivalent to 300 soccer pitches was destroyed every hour. Harapan, which straddles the border of two provinces near Jambi in central Sumatra, is 250,000 acres, roughly the size of Greater London. It is the first logged concession to be taken over with the explicit aim of ecosystem restoration.

Though made up of previously-logged forest, Harapan is unusually rich in wildlife, with gibbon monkeys and birds such as the Rufous bellied eagle and the Greater rocket-tailed drongo in abundance. The Sumatran tiger, Malaysian tapir, porcupines and elephants share the habitat.

The cycle of destruction, which so far affects only Harapan’s north east corner, is brutally simple. A failure of officialdom to enforce logging rules means too much timber is cut down.