Papuans act to protect forests and fight climate change

Siaran Pers - 23 Juli, 2009
A Papua civil society coalition today launched an action plan to tackle the threat of increasing deforestation in Papua Province, home to Indonesia’s last remaining intact tracts of tropical rainforest. The coalition, including Greenpeace, Papua NGO network Foker, the Papuan People’s Assembly (MRP), and the Samdhana Institute, announced the establishment of working groups to formulate the forest management, policy and financing steps needed to protect Papua’s forests, indigenous forest dependent peoples, biodiversity, and to fight climate change.

8 October 2008, Papua Province, Indonesia Excavators clear Sago, the region's food staple, to make way for palm oil plantations in Papua Province, Indonesia's last intact forest frontier. Greenpeace is calling for an immediate moratorium on all forest conversion in Indonesia to help curb the country greenhouse gas emissions, safeguard the wealth of tropical biodiversity and protect the livelihood of forest dependent communities.

Conflicting legislation governing the management of Papua's forests is causing an increase in deforestation from oil palm conversion, unsustainable logging and illegal logging. Papua, which has 'Special Autonomy' status, uses one law that recognises the rights of indigenous peoples to land and resources. However, another law considers forests to be state-owned.

"Papua's forests, with some of the richest biodiversity in the world, sustain 70 percent of the population, but 70 percent of the Papuan people live below the poverty line. Twenty percent of Papua's 40 million hectares of forest have already gone. Urgent action needs to be taken to protect the remaining forest and to safeguard the rights of the indigenous peoples who depend on them," said Marthen Kayoi, Head of Papua Provincial Forestry Office.

International recognition of the role forests play in climate stability is fueling greater interest in protecting forests like those in Papua. However, Greenpeace is urging caution as to how the money for forest protection should be raised and spent. The Greenpeace forest protection fund initiative, 'Forests for Climate' (1) promotes an approach where the international community pays into a fund that is used for forest protection projects driven by communities and indigenous peoples. Carbon trading has been proposed as an alternative solution but Greenpeace believes that Indonesia is not ready to enter into the carbon trading scheme especially due to its poor track record of governance. Also a carbon trading approach does not drive industrialised nations to take action to reduce their emissions at home.

"The only way to save Papua's forests, people, biodiversity and to fight global climate change is with global action taken immediately. This means industrialised nations must fund at least $40 billion per year to protect the world's rapidly diminishing forests and make deep emissions cuts at home," said Yuyun Indradi, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Forest campaigner.

Greenpeace's Forests for Climate mechanism includes eco-forestry as part of the solution for climate change, as this has been successfully initiated in Papua New Guinea.

"Forest solutions in Papua New Guinea can also be used in Papua so we are very keen to work and scale up the eco-forestry activity here as well. This could also be considered as an early action effort to protect Papua's forest. Eco-forestry is not just simply forest management, but the most important thing is that the community could build their capacity and get some benefits, with their rights being recognised and respected," said PNG eco forestry activist and Greenpeace's forest campaigner, Sam Moko..

"President Yudhoyono needs to wake up to the climate crisis and take immediate action by erasing corruption in forest governance and declaring a moratorium on deforestation. Forest protection funds will then start to flow from developed countries to provide sustainable solutions to forests, the people and biodiversity that depend on them and help win the global battle against climate change", concluded Indradi

Greenpeace is an independent, global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment, and to promote peace

Other contacts: Yuyun Indradi Greenpeace Southeast Asia Forest campaigner, tlp +62 811 180 5369 Hikmat Soeriatanuwijaya, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Media campaigner, tlp +62 811 180 5394

Notes: (1) For further information on the Forests for Climate initiative see: www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns/climate-change/forests_for_climate