01 February 2009

An analysis of the social problem of Forest Preservation in East Timor

ETLJ 01 February 2009 SYDNEY - The ninth in the series of reports on the analysis of social problems in East Timor entitled "Forest Preservation" has been published in the East Timor Law Journal in English, Indonesian and Portuguese. Excerpt follows:

The forest is the main source of economic support in the lives of farmer families in Timor Lorosa’e. It is also the source of firewood, non-wood forest products, logs and beams. Many valuable wood beams come from Timor Lorosa’e such as teak, red wood and mahogany.

The collection of firewood is the main factor in deforestation (forest damage). The demand for firewood for cooking grew fast when the subsidy for kerosene, the cooking fuel, was stopped. Based on a JICA estimation, the demand for firewood ranges between 377,000 – 1.5 million m³ annually. Then, NGO’s indicated that around 94 – 100% houses use firewood for cooking and around 80% of it is taken from the forest. In addition, the report by the Joint Agriculture Donors Year 2002 stated that the demand for firewood supply and the cut-and-burn agricultural method have reduced forest areas and worsened erosion in the highlands. Besides threatening the preservation of downstream irrigation systems and the main infrastructures like roads and bridges, it also increases sedimentation in the river and coastal areas, particularly in coral zone, creating another environmental problem.

The effect of these exploitation activities – collecting firewood and forestry, and the shifting agriculture, etc. is the risk of forest damage. This problem will create social and economic problems in the forms of decreasing forest cover, reducing farmer income, environmental damages that may lead to natural disasters such as floods, erosion and lack of water that is highly needed by the people.

So far, there has not been a Law on Forestry, although there is UNTAET Regulation Year 2000/19 aimed to protect many natural areas, and UNTAET Regulation 2000/17 that stipulates restrictions on forest felling and wood export. However, the implementation of these regulations is not effective. One of the obstacles is that Timor Lorosa’e is a newly-founded country. Certainly, its government management system, mainly concerning many technical institutions like the Forestry Unit, still needs a lot of improvement.

The suggested solution to change those social behaviors is the stipulation of a Law on Forestry concerning forest preservation, particularly the procedures of tree felling to reduce the prolonged impacts of forest damage.

The information sources needed to accomplish this report were taken from some bibliography and experience from some of the group members. The materials were analyzed on a qualitative basis by using the ROCCIPI approach to describe a logical framework towards alternative solutions suggested in legislative drafting and regulations in accordance with the identified social problems as well as the causes of problematic behavior of both the Role Occupant (RO) and the Implementing Agency (IA).

Read the full report in English, Indonesian or Portuguese.

East Timor Law Journal - Towards the rule of law in Timor-Leste!

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