JAKARTA, June 8 (UPI) -- Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has urged foreign countries not to accept illegal timber from his country.
"Foreign countries accuse Indonesia of selling illegal timber. Indeed, we are working to fight it but there are also foreign countries that still receive [illegal wood]," he said in a report in The Jakarta Post.
"If we want to improve it, the foreign countries should also stop receiving illegal timber."
Yudhoyono pointed to Indonesia's efforts to preserve its forests and the environment with the aim of Indonesia recognized as being "a global champion on environment."
Indonesia, the world's third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after the United States and China, aims to cut its emissions by 26 percent by 2020.
Deforestation and forest degradation and loss of peatland in Indonesia accounts for more than 80 percent of the country's emissions, says the World Resources Institute.
Indonesian Environment Minister Gusti Muhammad Hatta said forests in Indonesia are being destroyed at a rate of 1.73 million acres a year, while the rate of recovery and reforestation is 1.24 million acres a year.
Last month Yudhoyono signed into law a two-year moratorium on new permits to clear primary forests throughout the country as part of a $1 billion deal with Norway signed in May 2010 to fight climate change.
But environmentalists say the moratorium falls short of what is needed to protect Indonesia's forests.
"It doesn't mean much in terms of forest protection because most of the forest areas covered by the ban are under protected forest status legally," said Yuyun Indradi, a Southeast Asia forest campaigner for Greenpeace told IRIN News, the U.N. humanitarian news agency.
Greenpeace says about 99 million acres of forest -- an area nearly the size of California -- could still be destroyed under the moratorium.
An International Tropical Timber Organization report released this month suggests that the forest cover of Indonesia declined by as much as 18 percent since 2005.
"Indonesia's forests face many threats, including illegal logging, fire, encroachment, poor logging practices, inefficient timber-processing, unsettled land claims and regulatory inconsistency and confusion," the report states.
Indonesian forestry expert Hariadi Kartodiharjo says that about 60 percent of forest violations were due to weak forest policies, making it difficult to jail violators.
Indonesia and the European Union also this month signed the Voluntary Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade to reduce illegal logging, but it isn't expected to be ratified until September and wouldn't come into force until as late as 2013.