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.