Only 20 percent of the world's ancient forests remain in large, intact tracts. Some of the ancient forests under greatest threat are the Paradise Forests of Southeast Asia, which stretch across the islands of Indonesia, on to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands in the Pacific.
The island geography of the Paradise Forests allows for an incredible diversity of life, cultures, and landscapes. The Paradise Forests include tropical rainforests, mangrove, coastal, and peatland forests, while monsoon and deciduous forests flourish in the drier and more mountainous regions. They shelter an amazingly rich number of plant and animal species, many of which occur nowhere else on earth. The orangutan, Sumatran Tiger, and the world's largest flower, the three-foot wide rafflesia, all call the Paradise Forests home.
The Paradise Forest region also supports hundreds of indigenous cultures found nowhere else in the world. More than 1000 languages are spoken on the island of New Guinea alone. That is around one sixth of all the living languages on Earth today. The indigenous people of the Paradise Forests have maintained a connection to the forest for their cultural, spiritual, and physical wellbeing for thousands of years.
Paradise in Peril
Despite their diversity and importance, the Paradise Forests are among the most threatened in the world. Rainforests are being slashed and burned to make way for palm oil plantations. Ancient forests are razed to the ground by pulp and paper plantations. Illegal logging is rampant. These industrial drivers of deforestation led to Indonesia securing the dubious honor of a World Record for deforestation from the Guiness Book in 2007. If current trends continue unchecked, ancient forests in the Paradise region will disappear along with countless species.
Burning of forests and draining of peatlands has also made Indonesia the largest climate polluter in the world after China and the U.S.
Solutions to Protect Paradise Forests
To save the Paradise Forests, companies that buy products like palm oil and paper must be part of the solution. They must agree to an immediate halt to the destruction of carbon-rich peatlands and forests in the Paradise region. The first step is canceling direct business contracts with companies responsible for forest destruction. The next step is to ensure that third party suppliers, like palm oil traders, also stop doing business with forest-destroying suppliers. In addition, the same companies must add their voices to the growing call for political solutions to protect rainforests for the long term.
Governments must also cooperate to stop destruction of the Paradise Forests. Domestically, governments in the Paradise region should adopt aggressive goals to end deforestation as soon as possible.
Countries like the United States must protect its markets from products made with illegal timber or paper products. In addition, industrialized nations should provide funding to developing countries like Indonesia and Papua New Guinea to help keep forests standing. Learn more about the Greenpeace Forests for Climate proposal.