JAKARTA, Indonesia - With a strong endorsement from Indonesian officials, World Wildlife Fund Tuesday unveiled a set of reconstruction guidelines designed to promote both the economic and environmental recovery of tsunami-ravaged Aceh province.
"This document will become the guidelines for Aceh's sustainable reconstruction," Azwar Abubakar, the acting governor of Aceh, said in a preface to the green reconstruction guidelines. "They will be a reference for donors and development agencies so that their contribution to developing Aceh is undertaken in a manner that minimizes the negative impacts of the reconstruction process on Aceh's environment and natural resources."
Developed over several months of intensive consultations with public and private sector groups, aid agencies, relief organizations and local stakeholders, the WWF guidelines call for an integrated reconstruction plan incorporating the use of responsibly sourced building materials and the creation of sustainably managed fishery, agricultural and aquaculture industries. They supplement, and propose ways to implement, the federal master plan for reconstruction announced earlier by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
"President Yudhoyono and Gov. Abubakar both make the connection between rebuilding and the need to preserve the natural riches of Sumatra," WWF-US President-elect Carter Roberts said. "They want to re-build the right way, using environmental protections to lay the foundation for a durable and prosperous economy."
The guidelines cover a wide range of issues, from coastal zone management to training and strengthening local institutions in the wake of the Dec. 26 tsunami.
Most important, however, will be the supply of responsibly sourced building materials-particularly timber. At least 1.1 million meters of sawn timber will be needed for reconstruction over the next five years and only a small fraction of that demand can be met by legal logging in Indonesia.
"Unless the gap can be filled by imported timber, pressure to close it will fall squarely on the rainforests of Sumatra, where illegal logging will lead to widespread deforestation and, in turn, to further disasters like landslides and flooding," said Mubariq Ahmed, executive director of WWF-Indonesia.
To meet the urgent need for imported wood, WWF-Indonesia, along with Conservation International-Indonesia and the local research institute Greenomics, founded Timber for Aceh, a program that has since grown into a multi-stakeholder initiative supported by the Indonesian government and a broad range of public and private sector agencies and groups.