EU, Indonesia Target Illegal Logging Pact
BRUSSELS -- The European Union and Indonesia, home to most of the world's orangutans, have agreed to negotiate a pact aimed at helping stop illegal logging which is threatening their habitat, the EU said on Tuesday.
The voluntary accord, once complete, will provide assurance that Indonesian forest products imported to the EU are verified as legal. The EU is the third largest market for Indonesian timber after China and the United States.
"The EU and Indonesia recognise that as consumers and producers of tropical timber we have a joint responsibility to eradicate illegal logging," EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said after talks in Brussels with Indonesian officials.
Washington last November signed a similar pact with Indonesia, where according to the World Bank some 70 to 80 percent of logging is done illegally on public lands.
Inadequate law enforcement and the ruthless methods of the loggers are part of the problem.
The island of Borneo, which is shared by Indonesia and Malaysia, is home to more than three-quarters of the world's remaining 50,000 to 60,000 orangutans, which once numbered in the hundreds of thousands across Southeast Asia.
An estimated 7,000 to 7,500 of the orange shaggy-haired apes living on the Indonesian island of Sumatra have been identified as critically endangered by the World Conservation Union, with illegal logging one of the main factors.