Greenpeace activists block palm oil shipment in Indonesia

Feature story - November 10, 2008
In the latest stage of the Esperanza's Forests for Climate tour around south-east Asia, activists have arrived in Dumai, Indonesia to block a palm oil shipment from departing for Europe.

If the remaining forests and peatland in Riau are destroyed, they will release the equivalent of an entire year’s worth of global emissions.

The shipment was supposed to leave from Dumai, a large port on the eastern coast of Sumatra and Indonesia's main palm oil export port. Activists from the Esperanza left to expose three palm oil tankers anchored in Dumai port. Despite the crew of one ship blasting the activists with fire hoses, the team managed to paint "Forest Crime" and "Climate Crime" on the hull of all three ships, as well as the side of a barge loaded with timber from the rainforest.

Peatland protection

The largest ship to receive a new coat of paint was the Gran Couva, bound for Rotterdam in the Netherlands with 27,000 metric tonnes of palm oil from Wilmar, one of the largest palm oil companies in Indonesia.

Much of Sumatra's forest has been destroyed but small pockets remain, including one critical area of Riau. This area of forest is similar in size to Switzerland or Taiwan, but it grows in a thick layer of peat.

When drained and burnt to make way for oil palm plantations, the peat releases huge quantities of greenhouse gas, contributing to climate change. If the remaining forests and peatland in Riau are destroyed, they will release the equivalent of an entire year's worth of global emissions.

Fixed anchor for Forests

Following the exposure of these forest criminals with the painting of the ships, an activist climbed the anchor chain of the Gran Couva, and has secured himself there. This means the ship - and the palm oil it is carrying - have been immobilised and will not be leaving the port. For updates on the situation, read the ship tour blog.

During the ongoing tour of Indonesia, the crew of the Esperanza has witnessed massive conversion of Papua's tropical forests for palm oil plantations in a concession near Jayapura operated by Sinar Mas, the largest palm oil company in Indonesia. They have also exposed ongoing forest destruction for timber in Papua, and discovered fresh forest clearances in concessions in the peatland forests of Riau.

Greenpeace is calling on the Indonesian government to enforce an immediate moratorium on deforestation, as well as on the international governments to create a funding mechanism to provide international funds for forest protection in Indonesia and other forest countries.

Read more about the Esperanza's journey through Indonesia on the ship tour blog.

Follow the Esperanza in Google Earth by downloading this KMZ file, and on Twitter.

Take action

Write to the Indonesian president, demanding an end to the destruction

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