Greenpeace Paramotors begin fire-spotting activities in Riau

Feature story - October 20, 2007
Greenpeace launched today fire-spotting activities with paramotors also known as powered paragliders from the Forest Defenders Camp in Riau, Sumatra. These reconnaissance flights will be a regular feature of the camp to provide accurate and timely information to the local fire-fighting authorities as part of its efforts to address the forest fire issue.

Photographs taken by Greenpeace paramotors as they launch an ongoing aerial initiative to spot forest and peat fires in an oil palm plantation.

Photographs taken by Greenpeace paramotors as they launch an ongoing aerial initiative to spot forest and peat fires in an oil palm plantation. The paramotors were launched from the Greenpeace Forest Defenders Camp which opened on the 9th October as part of the organisations campaign to stop forest and peatland destruction caused in part by oil palm plantations.

Greenpeace has set up the Forest Defenders Camp (FDC) in Kuala Cenaku Village in Riau, and will conduct activities and documentation work over the coming months to bring the world's attention to the urgency of ending deforestation, the loss of biodiversity and the problem of climate change in the run up international climate change negotiations to be hosted in Bali in December.

"Flying over the forests of Riau in paramotors is both exhilarating and heart-breaking. The thick cover of the pristine rainforests that still remain is stunning to observe. But  when you fly over cleared forestlands, mainly concessions and palm oil plantations, the urgent need for action to stop this crime hits you in your face," said Cedar Anderson, ace paramotorist and Greenpeace volunteer at the FDC.

The deforestation rates in Indonesia are the highest amongst the world's major forest nations (1), and according to recent estimates, Indonesia is the country with the third largest greenhouse gas emissions after China and the United States, mainly due to the destruction of peatland forests (2). Deforestation accounts for approximately one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions (3).

Deforestation rate in Riau reach 160,000 hectares per year and the figure increased to 200,000 hectares per year in the 2004-2005 period, meanwhile total forest area in the province dropped significantly to 2.7 million hectares in 2004 from 6.4 million hectares in 1982 (4).

Greenpeace is calling on the Indonesian government to commit to a moratorium on deforestation and industrial logging; a review of laws, governance and law enforcement; and the implementation of a responsible and just land-use planning system.

"We need international action to end deforestation. Agreement on this must be included in the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol. Protecting the world's remaining forests will significantly reduce climate change, maintain the livelihood of millions of people who depend on forests and protect a huge amount of the world's biodiversity," said Nur Hidayati, Greenpeace Southeast Asia climate and energy campaigner at the camp. 

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