W Sumatera govt urged to act against illegal loggers

Padang, W Sumatra (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) has renewed its call for the West Sumatra provincial government to take firm action against any local official involved in illegal logging.

"So far no firm action has been taken against government apparatuses involved in illegal logging. Walhi urges the relevant agencies such as the forestry office, police, public prosecutor`s office and district court to take stern measures against any of their employees involved in it," the executive director of Walhi`s West Sumatra branch, Khalid Saifullahm, said here on Friday.

He said he was renewing the call as the threat of degradation and deforestation in West Sumatra had reached an alarming level.

Illegal logging had caused deforestation in a number of areas including Pesisir Selatan, Pasaman, Solok, Solok Selatan, and Padang, he said.

"As a result, ecological disasters such as floods and landslides have been on the increase in the past year," he said.

He put the blame on the low environmental awareness of many parties including government officials and certain community members for the declining quality of the environment particularly forests.

Data from the local forestry office show 34 cases of illegal logging in 2009 involved irresponsible government officials, he said.

"Of the total, 17 cases involved civil servants, 15 cases involved police officers, one case involved an official from the public prosecutor`s office and one case involved an official from the district court," he said.(*)