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Research Report

Timber Smuggling in Indonesia: Critical or Overstated Problem? Forest Governance Lessons from Kalimantan

Krystof Obidzinski
Agus Andrianto
Chandra Wijaya
Copyright Date: Sep. 1, 2006
Pages: 46
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-2)

    Over the last few years, illegal logging and illegal timber trading have dominated debates on the current state and the future of Indonesian forestry. Illegal logging and the illegal timber trade have been associated with a range of negative impacts on Indonesia’s environment, economy and society. Both activities are major contributors to deforestation and forest degradation in Indonesia (Gatra, 7 November 2003; Pikiran Rakyat, 22 September 2003). They also result in a significant loss of national tax revenue, estimated at US$ 600 million annually (Asia Pulse, 18 June 2003; Media Indonesia, 18 June 2003). Finally, the illicit wealth generated from...

  2. (pp. 3-4)

    Since FLE measures deployed in Indonesia to reduce illegal logging by zeroing in on the illegal timber trade involve substantial financial and human resources as well as social and political costs, it is important to examine the claims being made about the importance of tackling timber smuggling in combating the illegal logging problem in Indonesia. In doing so, this paper aims to inform the ongoing debates among government institutions, the private sector, donors, NGOs and research organizations about the relationship between timber smuggling and illegal logging in Indonesia. It also seeks to highlight the adjustments needed in Indonesian government forest...

  3. (pp. 5-9)

    The borderline dividing Indonesia’s Kalimantan and the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah on the island of Borneo is an imaginary line first drawn and agreed upon by the British and Dutch colonial powers in the 19th century. The total length of the land border is 1,840 km, a substantial part of it passing through some of the most inaccessible parts of the island (MoF 2005). The indigenous groups (Dayak, Melayu) split by this line have until fairly recently ignored it all together, moving freely along hundreds of footpaths connecting the villages on both sides of the divide. Once tribal...

  4. (pp. 10-18)

    In 2000 and 2001, for a number of reasons the Indonesian government turned increasingly more attention to the border zone in Kalimantan. On the political front, Indonesia faced a difficult territorial dispute with Malaysia over the islands of Sipadan and Ligitan – a dispute the Indonesian side eventually lost (The International Court of Justice 2002; Jakarta Post, January 20, 2004). The government in Jakarta was also struggling at the time to manage a wave of decentralization exuberance sweeping across the country. In the borderlands of East Kalimantan, this wave meant, among other things, practically unrestricted flow of timber for export...

  5. (pp. 19-24)

    In comparison to East Kalimantan, West Kalimantan has a much more intense history of cross-border interactions with the Malaysian state of Sarawak, particularly overland. One of the largest ethnic groups in West Kalimantan is the Iban, also a dominant indigenous community in Sarawak. As a result, the traffic of goods and people between the communities on both sides of the border has always been intense, and it continues to be the case today. There are at least 50 known footpaths connecting native communities on both sides of the border, along which the traffic is entirely unregulated (Pontianak Post, 7 August...

  6. (pp. 25-28)

    It is a commonly accepted view that over the last several years, timber smuggling has resulted in vast volumes of timber being stolen from Indonesia, causing serious economic losses and extensive environmental damage. Timber smuggling has also been presented as the main cause of illegal logging. In 2003, Indonesia’s MoF reported that up to 10 million m³ of timber was smuggled out of the country annually (Dephut 2003). Papua alone was estimated to supply up to 600,000 m³ per month for illegal export, primarily to China. According to MoF, in 2003 Papua supplied between 6 and 7 million m³ of...

  7. (pp. 29-30)

    The main problem facing Indonesian forestry is not market distortions, environmental damage or lost tax revenue caused by timber smugglers at remote border crossings. Rather, it is the illegal logging by Indonesian forest concessionaries, plantation developers, road construction activities etc. that escapes the checks of the Forestry Service, passes through its administrative system and enters trade through the Indonesian export system under ETPIK and BRIK (MFP 2006). This is the primary avenue for trade in illegal wood products from Indonesia. A 2004 study by CIFOR and TNC shows how these processes work in Berau and East Kutai districts, East Kalimantan,...