Kila Oumabe shows Greenpeace China forest campaigner Yi Lan how a local medicinal plant has a painful sting. This stinging nettle is used to take away the pain of childbirth by application to the small of a woman's back.
IN PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea activists from the Esperanza have stopped a ship loading piles of logged timber from the Paradise Forests of Papua New Guinea. The peaceful direct action was supported by many local people who joyously watched from boats, amidst much singing and dancing.
Three activists from Papua New Guinea and one from New Zealand are still harnessed to a crane in the dark and have been there for over 8 hours.
Another Kiwi, Dean Baigent-Mercer on board the Greenpeace ship Esperanza writes this update: A huge roar greeted the Esperanza crew from hundreds of locals lining the shore. There were people in small log canoes singing and dancing with joy. Some had even made their own protest banners complementing ours. Tears welled in the eyes of our crew.
"Some of these people have been suffering under the logging company for 23 years", said Kemaru Garry Bissue, Chairman of the Kikori Environmental Association and landowner from Kibiri Tribe. "They were very happy to see the Greenpeace ship."
The water of the Aiai River is muddy from soil running off the hills where the forest has been chopped down, dragged to waterways, piled on barges to fill the holds of enormous cargo ships, taken to China, made into plywood/kitset furniture/outdoor decking, before eventually being thrown into a landfill in a distant land.
This river is crocodile territory. It drains the huge Kikori basin. WWF funded wildlife surveys here in the 1995 and numerous new species of bird, fish, frogs and plants were discovered here.
The original deal allowed Turama Forest Industries, a Rimbunan Hijau group company, to cut down 187,000 hectares in the Turama concession area. Later, locals tell how the decision to extend the logging was rushed through in a few pressure cooker days leading up to an election. This was not just any logging extension though, the Turama Extension expanded the reach of the chainsaws into 1.7 million hectares of rainforest.
"There wasn"t enough time for people to consider what would be good and bad for them in the deal," says Kemaru Garry Bissue.
But, some people signed and the forests started falling.
It"s heartbreaking to hear stories first hand of the total disrespect from the company towards the resource owners who"s forests they are making hundreds of millions of dollars from.
These include the destruction of sacred sites, with-holding royalty payments, logging too close to villages and endangering the food supply.
"I have to walk 6-8 km to find food for my family", says Kila Oumabe from the Beseremen Clan. "I used to walk out my backdoor to find the plants and animals to feed my family. Now sometimes I don"t come back til 9 o"clock or midnight with nothing."
Ongoing complaints from resource owners regarding the many serious breaches of the logging agreement by Turama Forest Industries, have been ignored by the Papua New Guinean Government.
Forest destruction is responsible for about one fifth of annual global greenhouse gas emissions annually. And despite the Papua New Guinea Government asking for international funds to protect its forests for the benefit of the global climate, illegal and destructive logging continues to be rampant here.