The Mount Leuser National Park (TNGL) Center and the Aceh Police signed on Friday a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on stamping out illegal logging, which continues to expand in the TNGL.
The signing of the MoU was witnessed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Asia and Pacific regional director Shahbaz Khan, Director General of Environmental and Forestry Enforcement Istanto, as well as a number of officials from the Aceh Police and the TNGL Center.
Aceh Police chief Insp. Gen. Husein Hamidi said the MoU was proof of police support for the eradication of illegal logging in the TNGL, especially in the law enforcement process conducted by the TNGL Center against illegal loggers.
"It's impossible for the TNGL Center to act alone in overcoming illegal logging in the forested areas in the TNGL. We are ready to help because efforts to eradicate illegal logging must be backed up by police," Husein told The Jakarta Post after signing the MoU.
He revealed that police had detected several areas in the TNGL where illegal logging was taking place within the Aceh Police jurisdiction, such as in Gayo Lues, Southeast Aceh, South Aceh and Southwest Aceh.
"We will immediately stamp out illegal logging in Aceh territory. We will take stern action against the perpetrators, regardless of who they are, including military and police personnel," warned.
TNGL Center head Andi Basrul expressed the hope that the co-operation would reduce the rate of illegal logging in the TNGL. He acknowledged that efforts made by the centre to eradicate illegal logging had so far not been optimum.
"The number of perpetrators prosecuted at this moment remains small compared to the widespread cases of illegal logging. Frankly, we cannot work alone to overcome the problem without assistance from the police," said Andi.
He said stamping out illegal logging was in line with the outcome of the 39th World Heritage Committee conference in Bonn, Germany, which determined the TNGL as part of the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra in the World Heritage in Danger list.
Istanto said more than 40,000 hectares of the TNGL area had already been deforested.