Save Indonesian Lowland Forests from Illegal Logging

Target: Zulkifli Hasan, Minister of Forestry for Indonesia

Goal: Halt all illegal logging activities in Indonesia’s Gunung Palung National Park.

Gunung Palung National Park, on the Island of Borneo, is home to one of Indonesia’s last remaining lowland forests. Supporting several endangered species of flora and fauna, the park is being put at risk by illegal logging activities. Among the endangered species are hornbills, gibbons, and some 2,500 orangutans – all threatened by the destruction of their habitat. The logging is currently taking place in the Tanjung Gunung hamlet in the very center of the park, and near a vital research station which has been collecting important environmental data for over 20 years. Largely opposed to the logging, local communities have turned to their government for assistance in the matter without response. Given what is at stake, the logging must be stopped immediately.

Illegal logging has been a problem in Gunung Palung dating back to the late 1980’s. The park lost approximately 38 percent of its lowland forests between 1988 and 2002, due mostly to illegal logging activities. Having costly medical bills to pay, locals were forced to participate in illegal logging for a means of income. These activities largely stopped when the government addressed the problem by providing inexpensive high-quality medical care to local communities. For the last five years, the park has been part of a government program which was able to convince communities to forego logging activities in exchange for low-cost, high-quality health care. Impact assessments of the forest since the institution of the program show an increase in conservation awareness, decreased logging, and much improved health indicators. However, the current rash of illegal logging is not being done by locals, but by foreigners.

The illegal logging by foreigners is especially problematic. As one local put it, “We have already asked the government to intervene, but there have not yet been any results. The local community doesn’t want the loggers there, but it is difficult to regulate as they are outsiders.” Without any attachment to low-cost health care or agreements with the government, the foreign workers have no incentive to refrain from logging. Given how successful the first government conservation awareness program was in the region, it is reasonable to expect a second effort to prevent logging by foreign workers would be as well. As such, the government must step in to halt the illegal logging and save the lowland forests and its endangered species.  


Dear Minister Zulkifli Hasan,

A recent revival in illegal logging in Gunung Palung National Park, has again threatened the endangered species and local communities who make the park their home. Moreover, the logging is taking place at the core of the park near the hamlet of Tanjung Gunung, where a vital research station has been collecting environmental data for the last 20 years. Something must be done to ensure the safety of park and its residents.

A government run program in the park has, over the last five years, helped to cut back on illegal logging by offering low-cost, high-quality health care in lieu of the income earned from logging. Now the problem is foreign and migrant workers who have no incentive to forego logging. Given the success rate of the first program, it is reasonable to assume that the government can devise a new plan that could regulate foreign and migrant workers’ logging activities as well. Please make every effort to protect one of Indonesia’s last lowland forests.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: YogaYup via Flickr

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