Due to inadequate number of rangers, the forests in Papua are now facing serious threat of illegal logging activities and continuous clearing for development of oil palm plantations, timber estates, and mining.
In the areal of Jayapura alone, more than 1.3 million hectares of protected forest area is available, but the number of forest rangers is only a few.
According to Jayapura Forestry Department Chief Nataniel Membri, the province now has only 12 rangers to protect the forests.
"Today, we have only 12 rangers for the 1,353,407 hectares of preserved forest in Jayapura Regency, so we need a lot more," Membri said here on Monday.
He noted that with only 12 forest rangers, they were unable to control and protect more than 1.3 million hectares of the forest in the district and around Lake Sentani from illegal logging.
Another obstacle, according to him, was that the district had only three security posts, situated at Yokiwa, Boroway, and Nimbontong across such an extensive area.
"We need at least 50 additional forest rangers to protect the forest from irresponsible parties who engage in illegal logging," Membri said.
Data from local Forestry Department stated that more than 1.3 million hectares of protected forest in Jayapura district was made up of 84,000 hectares of conservation forest; 62,578 hectares of Nimboran mountain forest; 37,784 hectares of Masoali Demta forest; 38,914 hectares of Waruta forest; 319,293 hectares of Sogber forest; 948 hectares of Sungai Bum forest; 28,489 hectares of Bonggo forest; 10,4633 hectares of Karamor forest; and still other things.
"Therefore, we need more rangers to protect these forests and around 15,000 hectares of Cycloop nature reserve and 60,774 hectares of wildlife reserve," Membri said.
In Biak Numfor District, at least 17 rangers were involved in an effort to safeguard and protect the forests and wildlife, according to local Preserved Forest Management Unit (KPHL) Aries Toteles AP.
He noted that the forest rangers were spread across a number of areas in the district to protect the wildlife and preserve forests from illegal logging activities.
"We need more awareness of the people in every village to help the rangers protect the preserved forests from illegal logging," Aries said in Biak recently.
He noted that forest farmer groups in Biak Numfor were also involved in the attempt to protect the hundreds of thousands of hectares of forests in the district.
Data from Forestry Ministry indicated that Biak Numfor district had 206,016 hectares of forests, made up of 120,340 hectares of protected forest; 55,149 hectares of limited productive forest; and 30,527 hectares of permanent productive forest.
"Therefore, together we have to protect our forests for the sake of our lives, research, and education for our childrens children," Aries stated.
He added that the Biak Numfor regecy government will, in 2014, implement the rehabilitation program for 362 hectares of critical land and forest in various villages.
According to him, critical land and forest rehabilitation program will be supported by the central government through special allocation of funds.
"Up to this day, the Preserved Forest Management Unit has prepared the forest farmer groups in various villages to take part in the realization of critical land and forest rehabilitation program," he explained, adding that the critical land will be planted with productive trees.
Greenpeace campaigner for Papua, Ricarth Tawaru, has said that the forests across Papua are now facing a great threat.
He pointed out that almost nine million hectares of forests in Papua have been identified as expendable in the interest of development of large-scale industries.
He said that land takeovers and forest clearing for oil palm plantation pose a serious threat to Papuas forest.
According to him, the average acreage of forest lost every year in Papua had reached 300 thousand hectares, and almost two million hectares of forests had been allocated for the development of food industries and estates.
"Experience in various other regions has revealed that the changing of forest areas into palm oil plantations and timber estates have created serious social problems, including environmental problems," Tawaru said.
He said that Papuas forests were important not only for the ecosystem but also as a source of inspiration.
Further, he noted that gradual destruction of Papua forests is equal to destroying the sources of the Papuan peoples cultural inspirations.
"We are concerned about the governments plan to clear Papuan forests as it could separate the local people from their natural resources," he said.
He added that the Papuan people have noble values to protect their forests and are able to cultivate them for their own future.
To prevent damage to Papuas forests, Tawaru reminded all parties, including the government, businesses, and people, that Papuas forests in Indonesia were still the only remaining forests to help reduce global warming. [Antara]