Jakarta. Three logging company executives and a forestry department official are among 10 people arrested and charged with illegal logging.
“All 10 were last week named suspects for using fake documents to carry out logging in Sorong [in Papua],” National Police special crimes director Brig. Gen. Suhardi Alius told the Jakarta Globe on Friday.
The three executives, Hari Rahman, Yuwono and Subagyo, have since been transferred to National Police custody in Jakarta, while the rest remain in the custody of the Papua Police.
“We don’t have the names of these seven others yet, but we can confirm it includes a Sorong Forestry Department officer,” Suhardi said.
He said the three executives had been transferred to Jakarta because they were the “key suspects” in the case.
“We want to ensure they face the full extent of the law,” he said. “We’ll let the Papuan authorities deal with the rest.”
The three executives are from logging firms Diah Diani and Hasrat, from which police have seized more than 7,000 cubic meters of merbau logs.
The shipment was seized in Semarang, Central Java, to where it had been sent from Sorong on the way to markets in China and Taiwan.
The rare wood is particularly sought after by consumers in China, which is the world’s biggest importer of merbau, as well as in the United States and Europe, where it is widely used for flooring and furniture, mostly because of its very durable and termite-resistant characteristics.
Most of the merbau trees in Indonesia are in Papua, where large tracts of virgin forest remain unexploited, unlike in the more developed provinces of Sumatra and Kalimantan.
However, with loggers having exhausted the western forests, many are now turning their attention to Papua’s trees, resulting in the province losing a quarter of its forests over the past 12 years.
The tree is categorized as vulnerable to extinction by the Red List of Threatened Species published by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, the leading authority on conservation status.