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Corruption Cited in Destruction of Indonesia Forests

Two environmental groups blame corruption for the continued destruction of Indonesia's forests. The groups say that logging is threatening the habitat of rare primate species, including the orangutan.

The Environmental Investigation Agency and Telapak say that illegal logging is devastating large areas of Indonesia's tropical rainforest, including national parks.

In a joint report, the groups say that although Indonesia has laws that ban logging, corruption in the legal system and among politicians means that loggers are able to buy immunity.

Telapak is an Indonesian environmental group, while the Environmental Investigation Agency operates in several countries.

The groups say Indonesia's illegal loggers are clearing more than 16,000 square kilometers of forest each year.

The groups have concentrated their investigations on the Tanjung Puting national park on the island of Borneo, which is home to world famous centers to protect orangutans, Southeast Asia's largest primates.

There they found thousands of cubic meters of timber, including wood from increasingly rare species of trees, being processed at illegal sawmills within the park. The logging destroys the habitat for the rare orangutans, which live in thick jungle.

The report says Jakarta had done valuable work to establish treaties to limit the international trade in illegal timber. But without tackling problems within its own borders, says the report, the government risks having one of its most valuable resources stripped bare to feed the outside world's appetite for rare woods.

The report was released a week before donor nations meet to consider more assistance for Indonesia. Two years ago, the group signed a deal that made some aid dependent on the government tackling illegal logging.