Indonesian pulp output hit by logging curbs

Jakarta (Antara News) - A drive to clamp down on illegal logging in Indonesia could cut supplies of raw materials to the pulp and paper industry and slash output by two-thirds next year, an industry official said on Monday.

Environmentalists blame timber groups in the country for illegal logging and the destruction of forests. The pulp and paper groups have denied that they use illegally logged timber.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said last month that illegal loggers and their financial backers were "common enemies" and must be brought to justice.

Muhammad Mansur, chairman of Indonesia's pulp and paper association, cited cases where firms had got permits from the forestry ministry to cut down trees in a concession but had then been targeted by the police for illegal logging.

"The conflict between the forestry department and the police department has hurt raw material supplies," Mansur told Reuters.

Since the start of the year, police have tried to catch illegal loggers in areas including forest concessions owned by companies supplying wood to PT Indah Kiat Pulp & Paper and PT Riau Andalan Pulp and paper in Sumatra island, a director at a parent firm said previously.

Mansur said pulp producers were expected to produce 1.68 million tonnes of pulp next year, down from an estimated of 5.2 million tonnes this year and 5.67 million tonnes in 2006.

He said that in order to ensure supplies, the companies had been cutting down immature trees on their plantations, but he estimated this would only be possible until the end of the first quarter of 2008.

Indonesia has 84 integrated pulp and paper mills, with a total capacity of 6.5 million tonnes, according to data from the association.

The country exports about half of its production to Asia, including China and South Korea.

Indah Kiat is a unit of Asia Pulp and Paper, part of the Sinar Mas group, while Riau Andalan is a subsidiary of APRIL, which is part of the Raja Garuda Mas (RGM) International group.

The two companies account for 65 percent of the country's total output of pulp and require a total of 9 million tonnes of wood per year.

According to Greenpeace, Indonesia had the fastest pace of deforestation in the world between 2000-2005, with an area of forest equivalent to 300 soccer pitches destroyed every hour.
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