Uncontrolled illegal logging has been blamed for a flash flood in Tangse district, Pidie regency, Aceh, on Thursday evening. The flood waters killed at least 12 people and displaced hundreds of families. “It’s undeniable that the disaster was caused by illegal logging and land clearing activities in the region,” Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) Aceh branch executive director Teuku Muhammad Zulfikar. 


Illegal logging activities became increasingly widespread in the region following the 2004 tsunami and the subsequent peace agreement between the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). This reportedly led to the increase in the need for wood for reconstruction purposes. Timber has been logged illegally from mountainous regions in Pidie, including Geumpang, Tangse and Mane districts. Police have frequently seized trucks transporting illegal logs, but others have avoided detection.

“This only shows that the forest rangers’ surveillance activities in the regions are still weak,” Zulfikar said. The Tangse disaster management team has still been unable to assess the impacts in a number of isolated areas. 

Aceh Disaster Management Agency head Asmadi Syam reported that the flood had destroyed seven bridges, six irrigation facilities, 50 hectares of rice fields, 6 kilometers of regency road, two school buildings and two Islamic boarding schools buildings.