The Indonesian government has announced that it will allow more logging in large parts of the country's rainforest to give a boost to its devastated economy. This decision may prove to be fatal for the country's diminishing rainforests, the world's second largest.
According to reports, in almost 50 per cent of the nation's 1.4 million sq km of rainforest, or an area five times the size of England, logging concessions have been given by the government. "We will issue 70 forest concessions, of which some 21 are new. The remaining will be for timber firms to extend their existing concessions which expire in December," said Soegeng Widodo, director general of forest production and utilisation. Most of the concessions are held by conglomerates. One of the largest is Barito Pacific, which has concession to log in an area covering 26,700 sq km. Environmental groups have also alleged that loggers start fires to clear land. This leads to grave air pollution problem of smog across Southeast Asia. At the end of the eighth ministerial meeting of the Association of South East Asian Nations ( asean ), the ministers had urged Indonesia to take effective enforcement measures to tackle plantation and forest fires in order to prevent a repeat of the 1997 haze.
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