Illegal logging of rainforests on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi surged by 70% in 2020, according to findings by local NGO JURnal Celebes.
The group attributes the increase to monitoring activities by forestry authorities being scaled back as part of wider mobility restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Illegal logging is especially rampant in the region of Mahalona Raya in East Luwu district, at the nexus of the k-shaped island, according to Mustam Arif, director of JURnal Celebes. Locals have reported an increased in logging activities in the region, including the sound of chainsaws and daily truck traffic. Most of the logs are transported to sawmills in Wawondula village.