Sep Galeva, of the Kuni tribe, invited Greenpeace and other organisations to help the people of Lake Murray establish eco-forestry projects. Sep is pictured as the first eco-timber shipment is loaded onto a barge.
In Beijing, we set up a China Forest Rescue Station, as most of
theillegally logged timber from the Paradise Forests is sent to
China forprocessing into cheap wood products, then exported or sold
to thegrowing domestic market.
PNG landowner Brian Barring contributed blogs as he travelled
throughEurope and the UK, spreading the word about the situation in
hishomeland. The UK and EU countries are also big consumers of
illegallylogged timber products.
The weblog brings the fight to save the Paradise Forests to
life. Itdraws us in to the Lake Murray community. We share the
commitment ofthe volunteers and the joy of the landowners as their
shared dream - toestablish sustainable, small-scale, eco-forestry
projects - became areality.
'Lukautim Bus' was the Pidgin slogan for our campaign. It
means'Protect Our Forest' or, using a more literal translation,
'Look AfterOur Bush'. The slogan was unveiled on the Rainbow
Warrior, as itarrived in Port Moresby to a
traditional welcome. The campaign had officially kicked
At the GFRS, our first lucky volunteers were trying to get the
hang oftheir new way of life. Europeans Flo and Klaas were
determined to mastthe art of canoeing,
hunting and fishing, so they could become part of the group -
boy bilong grup" in Pidgin.
Flo and Klaas became so adept at their new hunter-gatherer
lifestyle,they even took on the task of providing food for the camp
or so they say!
open day for the public, the Warrior
farewells their new Port Moresby friends and sets off. The next
stop is Jayupura, in Papua, where the ship receives another
colourful welcome. The local campaigners hold an
eco-forestry forumand many influential people attend, including
the Governor of Jayapura,the Provincial Forest Minister,
spokespeople from NGOs and leaders ofmore than 15 Papuan
Manokwari, the campaigners and crew held a similar forum at the
local university, which actually had it's own forest out the
back! After so long at sea, it was a welcome sight.
Stop trashing my forest!
Meanwhile, Brian saw
snow for the first time in his life. Battling the cold weather
- and adjusting to a European diet of bread,bread and more bread -
Brian took his message to the media, civilservants and
politiciansas he made his way around Europe. In the UK he
delivered an impassionedplea to Alchemy Partners, whose company,
Montague L Meyer, sellsplywood made from Bintangor and other
tropical species. Brian'smessage was simple and direct: "
Stop trashing my forest!"
A taste of Paradise
Like Brian, the volunteers at the GFRS were coming to terms with
beingfar, far from home. Life at 'Camp Kewe' gave them a new
appreciation ofjust how much the forest means to the people of Lake
Murray. It reallyis their 'supermarket'. They go there to find
everything they need -not just
food, but all the materials they need for shelter and transport
dug-out canoes) too.
The new lifestyle bought with it certain dilemmas. Flo and
Klaasencountered a dangerous snake (a death adder) which they
implored thelocal boys
not to kill. Their regret is relayed through the blog; while
writing it, theyreached a new understanding of the realities of
forest life. They,after all, had never lost a friend or relative to
a snake bite.
In a similar vein, Merel's conscious effort to avoid any
offensive thatturning down a local delicacy (turtle soup) would
cause, led her to a
chance meetingwith some local women - one of whom needed a lift
to the local hospitalwith her newborn baby. Of course, the GFRS
team were happy to oblige.
Speaking of soup, the Warrior, en route to Jakarta, came across
shark fishermanwhose plight reminded Hapsoro that poor
communities aren't just rippedoff for their forest products. These
fishermen worked hard tocatch sharks in open water. Their spoils
are sold at well below themarket rate, because the demand for cheap
marine products drives pricesdown.
Getting down to business
The volunteers at the GFRS were there to work, and work they
did. Together with the landowners and foresters from the Foundation
forPeople and Community Development (FPCD), they set about marking
theboundaries of the land owned by the various clans at Lake
While small teams of volunteers were off boundary marking,
othersjoined landowners for training days in eco-forestry. The
field trips, allowing the landowners and volunteers to put
their new skills into action.
As word spread around the lake, more and more clans wanted to
join theeco-forestry project. In order for the clans to set up
theireco-forestry business, they had to map out their land, and
designate ause (hunting, sago plantations, eco-forestry, etc) for
different areas.A local NGO (non-government organisation) called
Barefoot heldworkshops to help with the
mapping out process, using sticks, string and different types
of leaves to represent the various areas.
Barefoot also encouraged debate about sustainable
communitydevelopment, and initiated discussions on how each clan
could use theproceeds from eco-forestry to benefit their
Cause for celebration
People from all over the lake came to see the
arrival of the sawmill. This portable piece of equipment, used
to mill trees into timberon-the-spot, thus causing minimal damage
to the forest, was welcomed tothe region with a traditional 'sing
sing'. FPCD will lease sawmills tolandowners on a buy-back scheme
as their eco-forestry business takesshape.
Meanwhile, Lake Murray received its
first order - a handwritten note requesting 43 pieces of
eco-timber (around 2 metrecubed). Sep, the leader of the Kuni
tribe, which invited Greenpeace andour partners to Lake Murray,
arranged for a sunken barge to be
refloated, to transport the eco-timber out. Everything was
falling into place …
Bearing witness to forest crime
Out at sea, the crew of the Warrior were confronted with the
realitiesof illegal logging, when it encountered the MV Ardhianto,
a huge cargoship loaded with a slice of the Paradise Forests. It
was being loadedup with timber from the Kayu Lapis Indonesia mill -
known to trade indestructively and illegally logged timber.
Our activists, including Hapsoro, a campaigner from Indonesia,
hung twobig "Stop Ancient Forest Destruction" banners, as they
bearing witness to the forest crime.
Hapsoro was present again a month later, when the Ardhianto
arrived in Yokohama, Japan, to unload its
devastating cargo. This time, activists unfurled banners that
asked, "Is this timber legal?"
Technology and tradition meet
Out in the forest, the boundary marking was coming along in
leaps and bounds, thanks to the
foresters and their GPS. FPCD had only recently started using
the Global Positioning Systems. In the past, they used a long tape
At Campe Kewe, 18-year-old Susan, of the Yongom tribe, sat down
with Merel, one of the GFRS volunteers, and
wrote a weblog. It was the first time Susan had ever used a
Amele, a forester from FPCD, also contributed a blog, about
gender equality on the lake.
felling of the first tree was a "sombre and dramatic" landmark
in the project. A few days later, when the
first shipment of eco-timber was loaded onto the barge, Lake
Murray was buzzing.
Years of planning went into the eco-forestry project. In 2006,
afterthree months of lessons, practice sessions and planning
meetings, thepeople of Lake Murray - and their posse of
international friends -could finally say, "Em Nao: Eco-Timber!"