Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Squatters endanger Jayapura water catchments

The future of nature conservation water catchment areas serving the Papua provincial capital city of Jayapura and the nearby town of Sentani is under threat from human settlement and resultant land clearance. According to Jayapura Regent Habel Melkias Suwae, 4,330 people have illegally settled in the Cycloop conservation areas, because government bans on people living in the conservation areas were not being heeded. "These people have illegally felled trees and developed farming ... They claim the land belongs to them so that they feel they can do as they like. But when their activities cause flooding, it is the local administration which is to blame," he said.

Suwae explained that out of the 22,500 hectares earmarked for nature conservation in the area, 9,374 hectares had been classified as 'critical land'. Illegal logging in the conservation areas had already caused landslides in three locations and caused flooding in parts of Sentani, Habel said as reported by The Jakarta Post.

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