Greenpeace's "Forests for Climate" Tour reaches Indonesia

Feature story - 6 October, 2008
Greenpeace today embarked on the Indonesian leg of its "Forests for Climate" ship tour, to shine the spotlight on the rampant destruction of the Paradise Forests - the last remaining ancient forests of Southeast Asia.

A group of Papuanese traditional dancers greets the Esperanza during a welcoming ceremony at Jayapura port.

The Esperanza arrived in Jayapura, in the Indonesian province of Papua, to an energetic welcome from a troupe of traditional dancers, and local dignitaries - including the mayor of Jayapura - gave their support to our campaign."Forests for Climate" is not only the slogan for our Paradise Forests tour - it's also the name of a landmark proposal Greenpeace has developed, for an international funding mechanism toprotect tropical forests.

Having just completed a six-week tour of neighbouring Papua New Guinea, the Esperanza will tour Indonesia starting with the provinces of Papua and West Papua, which represent the last frontier of intact ancient forests in the country. Over the next six weeks, the ship will be touring the archipelago to document the threats facing the forests of Papua and Sumatra as well as the companies and politicians responsible. Also, we will be highlighting the short and long-term solutions to the crisis so these forests can be permanently protected.

As one half of the remote and mountainous New Guinea island, Papua contains the largest area of remaining forest in Indonesia - with those of Sumatra and Kalimantan on the island of Borneo largely gone or degraded, this really is the last frontier. The region is home to hundreds of distinct tribes and clans with a corresponding range of cultural diversity, and for biodiversity is second to none, with animals and plants new to science being recorded on a regular basis.

That alone makes the forests worth protecting, but we now realise they're also vitally important when it comes to climate change. Not only do the trees and soil act as huge carbon stores, cutting them down also releases that carbon in the form of greenhouse gases. Indonesia is the third largest emitter on the planet, largely due to deforestation and its forests are disappearing faster than anywhere in the world, so to prevent climate change we have to save the forests, including those in Papua.

The way to do this is to place a moratorium on all deforestation across Indonesia, which will provide the breathing space necessary to work on plans to safeguard the future of these forests. The Indonesian government is the one to lay down a moratorium, but it also needs the palm oil industry to provide ministers the space to do so.

Following the victory with our Dove campaign earlier this year, we have been working with companies such as Unilever to build a coalition in favour of an immediate moratorium on forest conversion for palm oil and insisting their palm oil suppliers do not clear further forests.

The effects of climate change are already being felt around the world and we don't have long to prevent the worst predictions becoming inevitable. We still have time if we act now.

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