SHUTDOWN! Forest destruction blocked by Greenpeace to save the climate

Feature story - November 12, 2009
UPDATE: November 18, 2009 - Two Greenpeace activists from Germany and Italy and two members of the press from India and Italy, all of whom were traveling on valid business and journalist visas, were picked up and detained by Indonesian police. While politicians continue to talk, we're taking action at the frontline of forest and climate destruction in Indonesia. Barack Obama is about to arrive in Asia for his first official visit while the US continues to block progress ahead of the critical UN climate summit.

With up to a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions coming from cutting down and burning forests, it's clear we cannot avert a climate disaster unless world leaders take action of their own to stop the destruction.

Fifty of our activists  - from Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Brazil and Finland - shut down deforestation operations in the heart of the Indonesian rainforest and stopped companies clearing and destroying the carbon-rich forest peatland and asked Obama to live up to the promise he made to take decisive action on climate change. With just weeks left before December's critical UN climate summit, his administration is actively undermining and stalling the climate change negotiations.

One group unfurled a huge banner in a freshly destroyed area of rainforest that read "Obama: you can stop this." Others locked themselves to all seven digging machines that were in the middle of destroying the rainforest in one of the pulp and paper concessions in the Kampar Peninsula - owned by Asia Pacific Resources International Holding Limited (APRIL -- one of Indonesia's biggest pulp and paper producers). In spite of intense heat, swarms of mosquitoes and tropical rain - our activists managed to hold their nerve and remained locked onto the digging machinery. Workers even started three of the excavators and moved one of them with three of our activists still on its roof. They only stopped when other activists bravely sat right in front of the machine.

Things began to get tense about 10 hours into the action - when company staff broke the chains and started another of the four diggers - even though it had 7 activists locked onto it. The  police moved in to stop the protest. Our activists are currently detained by the police.

Liar, liar - trees on fire!

In response to a letter we sent voicing our concerns about forest destruction in this region, pulp and paper company APRIL stated that it had ceased operations in the Kampar Peninsula. But we knew otherwise. So, earlier this week we released fresh evidence - including aerial surveillance images - that left no doubt that APRIL is destroying this rainforest. This data also raised damning suspicions that the company is draining and destroying forest peat that is deeper than nine feet - the maximum depth allowed by Indonesian law.

A few hours ago, we brought this evidence to a public meeting held by APRIL in the regional capital of Pekanbaru where the company was introducing the latest of a string of so-called 'High Value Forest Assessments' aimed at greenwashing its image.

Dam it! We need forest protection NOW!

The action took place on the Kampar Peninsula on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, where we have set up a ' Climate Defenders' Camp'. Rainforest and the destruction of the forest's carbon-rick peat soil in Indonesia emits huge quantities of CO2 and has driven Indonesia to become the world's third largest climate polluter after China and the US. The peatland in this area alone stores approximately 2 billion tons of carbon. Our activists at the camp have spent the past weeks constructing dams across the canals - built by paper companies to prepare the land for plantations - to prevent them draining and destroying the forest and its peat and releasing alll this CO2 to the atmosphere.

In two days, President Obama joins 20 other Heads of State in Singapore to discuss Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) - just a few weeks before he and other leaders must agree an historic deal to avert a climate crisis at December's UN climate summit. Instead of continuing to block progress - Obama and other world leaders need to push for an ambitious, fair and effective deal that includes ending the destruction of the world's rainforests.

To end global deforestation, industrialized countries must invest in forest protection.

Take Action

Join our activists by calling on President Obama to agree on a firm pact in Copenhagen this December - including a fund for forests.