Suzette.jpgFrom Suzette, communications coordinator at the Climate Defenders Camp in Indonesia

It almost feels like a home coming. Landing back in Indonesia and then travelling into the back-blocks of Sumatra. In the last few years I’ve been lucky enough to spend some time here working for Greenpeace on climate and forest issues.

I can’t boast any command of the local language but I definitely feel a connection to this land. Coming from New Zealand, I know I have a lot to learn about the history and life in general here in Indonesia, but there’s a common understanding I share with the people I meet in Indonesia; the desire and will to save the remaining forests.

As such, I’ve been angered by some of the comments from certain think-tanks that have recently been reported in the media.

One of these was a comment pretty much accusing NGO’s – like Greenpeace – of ruining local people’s economic ‘wealth’. I wish these so called ‘concerned interests’ could be present here at the Greenpeace climate defenders camp and witness the shared passion from Greenpeace volunteers and the local community in preserving the real wealth that they own – their forest home.

Late yesterday a group of around 100 young people from the local community youth group came and visited our camp. Introductions were made – and all were stoked when some foreigners said their welcomes to them in Bahasa Indonesian. The senior member of their group said our presence on their lands was welcome and they hoped we would continue our fight for their forests long after the camp had gone. As if there could be any doubt – protecting the remaining forests is an issue for local people, foreigners and every government on earth today.


Today I was fortunate enough to be allowed to swan off for a few hours (our intrepid leader Rob said yes as long as I blogged!) to the local village where a market was underway. Smells assailed me – bad smells – fish in the heat never smells great. This area is really remote and totally off the tourist track so my wandering around the market garnered plenty of attention.

After about ten minutes my camp buddies and I decided to leg it and walk around the rest of the 2,000 strong village. A gibbon swung from the trees and was chased by some kids – who were in turn chased by the gibbon. Bougainvillea of differing shades engulfed the houses it grew against. Kids, old women and local men all stopped to say hi – their curiosity about the strangers in their midst overcoming language barriers.

These are the people some faceless think-tank (that’s only serving corporate interests) says are being swindled by organisations like Greenpeace and by people like me. Corporate interests that do not even know these villagers or what they want for their forests. Faceless people that sit in their suits in their corporate towers and say that destroying the forests that so many Indonesians rely on for their future and which hold the culture of their past is a good thing. I say this think tank and the companies it serves are wrong. These faceless, mainly offshore companies are the only ones that profit. The forests that they kill for their palm plantations and acacia tree plantations are irreplaceable.

Saving our forests is paramount to saving the lives of people that dwell in them, saving the lives of the remaining animals and plants, and saving the global climate.

- Suzette

>>Read more about the Climate Defenders Camp

>>Join the call for an ambitious deal in Copenhagen including a forest fund