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  Antara 4 Oct 06
Indonesia: Community given opportunity to participate in forest conservation

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Forestry Ministry will give an opportunity to the community living in or near forests on Java island to actively participate in forest conservation as part of efforts to revitalize the forestry sector.

According to data presented by the ministry, the forests in Java accounted for only about 16 percent of the land area of the island, far below the minimum stipulated in Law No.41 on Forestry, a source in the ministry said here early this week.

The ministry denied reports of the mass media recently that the government will distribute forested land to the community for cultivation to reduce the forests on the island.

In a bid to improve welfare of people living in and near forests, the ministry will cultivate land in neglected forests, especially production forests, in cooperation with the local people. The cultivation program will cover 1.8 million ha of production forests belonging to Perhutani.

This forestry public corporation is entrusted with the task of conserving and developing state-owned forests in Central Java (Unit I), East Java (Unit II) and West Java and Banten (Unit III).

To speed up forest conservation outside Java, the Forestry Ministry will foster the development of the forestry industry as part of efforts to enhance people`s welfare and boost national economic growth.

For that purpose, the ministry will develop timber estates in 9.0 million ha of unproductive forests, including 5.4 million ha or 60 percent to be managed in cooperation with smallholder communities.

The development of the forestry industry outside Java, according to the ministry, is an integral part of the revitalization of the agriculture, fishery and forestry sectors that have been encouraged by the government since the beginning of 2006.

The forestry sector has served as one of the prime movers of national economic development in the past three decades. However, the role of this sector in promoting the national economy has declined due to increasing forestry problems and crime, which have affected the quality of forest resources that provide basic materials for the forestry industry.

The Forestry Ministry has, therefore, striven to maximize forest revitalization for the strengthening of the forestry sector and the revival of its role as one of the prime movers of the national economy. (*)

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