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The Forest of South East Sulawesi
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The Forest of South East Sulawesi
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The People of Bukit Lawang

Local people in Sulawesi island, Indonesia have developed a community-based forestry cooperative, the first in the country to achieve Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification for sustainability. This has helped to regulate teak production and secure fair prices for producers. However, the group's members face an ongoing battle with Indonesia's endemic corruption.

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Directed by Paul Redman.

Learn more about the KHJL teak cooperative.

Originally featured in the ViewChange Online Film Contest.

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Segment 1

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The forests of South East Sulawesi, Indonesia
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Where loggers seek fresh timber to trade.
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But this is not a story about illegal logging.
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It is a story about logging with the first Indonesian cooperative to be awarded Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification for sustainability.
ABDUL MAAL [Teak Farmer and KHJL (Koperasi Hutan Jaya Lestari, a local teak cooperative) Member]
The aim of KHJL is to answer the question, is our forest management sustainable or not? So for every teak tree felled we must plant a minimum of 10 seedlings. This wood is then sent to Java, and the industry in Java then exports it.
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FSC timber is sold on the international market at a fair price. This enables communities to plan for their future.
WARMA SAMEDI [Vice Chairman, KHJL]
Before we got ecolabel certification from FSC, the price of timber was very low. But after the cooperative got the certification the price increased significantly.
ABDUL CHALIK [JAUH]
There is no chance for illegal logging here anymore because all the cooperative members privately own their land.
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From 2005 to 2006 exports of KHJL's timber doubled, but the future of the community remains in the balance as Indonesia's endemic corruption begins to catch up with them.
ABDUL CHALIK
The mission of our cooperative is to do a number of things -- to try to save the forest, improve community welfare, and increase local government income -- so all this creates a synergy. Then every time people from outside try to bribe, we don't tolerate it in the cooperative. However, in reality, the law does not support these good intentions.
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Multiple permits are required to transport timber from the forest to the port. This allows local officials the chance to demand illicit payments.
ABDUL HARRIS [KHJL Chairman]
The transportation of KHJL timber from the forest to industry offers many opportunities for illegal payments. I don't have a problem with paying legal fees, but the problem is that corrupt officials ask for money by manipulating local and Indonesian laws. We are working really hard to improve our livelihoods but, if we have to pay all these bribes, the question is, what kind of business will the cooperative become?
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[end credits]