Moratorium. When Yusuf Irwandi was elected governor of Aceh, he made a promise. After the
Tsunami, the guerrilla leader of the separatist group Gam signed a peace agreement
with the government, and laid out first on his political plan the end of the environmental
destruction that over the years cleared half of the Sumatra forest. Irwandi called
for a long-term moratorium of timber cutting and trade. The bylaw is part of a
larger project worked out by the Jakarta government to end the deforestation of
its land. In December at the UN Climate Change Conference, to be held in Bali,
a global fund will be proposed and earmarked to the preservation of Sumatra the
third forest in the world, after the rainforest of Brazil and of the Congo Democratic
A hundred thousand homes destroyed.
The ten-year separatist war between Gam and the Indonesian army did not allow
to control nor to curtail the logging trade, that up to two years ago was in the
hands of the guerrilla fighters and of some unscrupulous soldiers. Only after
the 2006 peace agreement the tropical rainforest in the North of Sumatra, hideout
of the rebels, became accessible and the Government could enter in faraway unapprochable
areas, to measure the proportions of a wild destruction. The tsunami wrecked 130thousand
homes, and the need for wood soared to incredible heights. Since 2005 the rebels,
who were the sole responsible of an illegal trade, started to sell timber to International
organizations, causing an even worst environmental disaster.
Million hectares of forest vanished.
The organization IFE, Indonesian Forum for Environment, launched warning signals
two years ago. An investigation carried out by the province proved that most part
of the wood was not used to build homes but sold to the worldwide market through
Malaysia and Singapore. Environmental groups estimate that Indonesia loses every
year over 2 million hectares of forest, which is equivalent to 30millions of soccer
fields. The Aceh province loses 20 hectares every day and it was the most hit
by the tsunami that here killed 170thousand people. After two years and half,
only part of the reconstruction of Aceh has been completed, there are still 70
thousand houses to be rebuilt. Chalid Muhammad, the president of IFE, declared
that if the government does not act promptly to end the problem, Aceh risks to
see new crushing natural disasters.