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Indonesian Tropical Rain Forest Imperiled

Indonesian Tropical Rain Forest Imperiled

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - Indonesia would consider eliminating its tropical

forests if environmentalists succeed in campaigns against buying tropical forest

products, Forestry Minister Gasrul Garahap has said.

"If everybody refuses to buy our timber then we may be forced to turn our forest

lands into plantations to grow commercial crops," Garahap said after a meeting

with President Suharto.

Environmentalists contend that indiscriminate logging is being allowed in Indonesian

tropical forests and tropical forests around the world, damaging the environment.

Indonesia has denied the allegations, and says its logging companies are required

to plant a seedling for every tree cut. Neighboring Malaysia also describes its forests

as carefully managed.

Garahap, who just returned from Japan, said officials in that country told him Japan

may substantially reduce its timber imports from Indonesia in the future.

He said Japan would be able to reduce imports by improving efficiency in the use

of timber and recycling used timber products.

Garahap said he told Japanese officials that Japan should not join in the campaign

to boycott tropical tree products because to do so would cause problems for Japan's

own timber industry.

He also called Japan "unfair" for imposing import duties of 10 percent

to 15 percent on plywood from Indonesia while allowing logs to enter its market duty-free.

Japan has promised to lower the import duty on plywood.

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