Recent landslides and flash floods in Indonesia, which claimed almost 300 lives, have set off a heated debate over logging being a possible cause.
Local environmentalists say the disaster exposed the government's failure to check the rampant illegal logging. But forestry minister Malam Kaban denied the charge, saying, "There is no illegal logging case as reported by the media. The disaster is caused by the conversion of many forest areas into coffee plantations." The Center for International Forestry Research, an international conservation group, supported the government, saying the landslides occurred since central Java is flood-prone and farmers have cut down forests for agriculture.
But other environmental bodies such as the Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI) are not convinced. FWI claims that illegal logging contributes to 90 per cent of all the timber in the country.
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