Greenpeace prevents palm oil shipment leaving Indonesia, demands an immediate end to forest destruction

Feature story - November 10, 2008
Greenpeace activists today prevented a palm oil shipment from departing for Europe from Dumai, Indonesia’s main palm oil export port, to protest against the ongoing destruction of Indonesia’s forests.

Indonesian Greenpeace activist Romadon Canarisla from the MY Esperanza climbs the anchor chain of the tanker ‘Gran Couva’ and braves the crew’s water hoses. The tanker is carrying 27,000 metric tonnes of crude palm oil for the Wilmar company destination Rotterdam. Greenpeace is protesting against the destruction of Kampar Peninsular's peatland forest by pulp and paper and palm oil industries and calling for the Indonesian Government to implement a moratorium on deforestation. Peatland forest is critical for maintaining biodiversity and it's degradation releases vast stores of carbon thereby contributing to global climate change.

Earlier, activists painted "Forest Crime" and "Climate Crime" on the hull of three palm oil tankers and a barge full of rainforest timber. One Greenpeace activist is chained onto the anchor chain of the Gran Couva that is carrying palm oil owned by the Wilmar group to stop it from leaving Indonesia for the Netherlands.

"Today Greenpeace is taking action to expose the disastrous impacts of the palm oil and logging industries on Indonesia's peatlands, forests and on the global climate" said Bustar Maitar, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Forest Campaigner, "Supplying the demand for palm oil and other commodities can occur without further deforestation and companies like Wilmar and Sinar Mas must support the call for a moratorium on deforestation."

During the ongoing 'Forest for Climate' Esperanza's tour of Indonesia, Greenpeace witnessed massive conversion of Papua's tropical forests for palm oil plantation in a Sinar Mas concession near Jayapura. Greenpeace also exposed ongoing forest destruction for timber in Papua and discovered fresh forest clearances in concessions in the peatland forests of Riau.

The rapid conversion of forests and peatlands for palm oil and pulp plantations, and logging is a major driver of deforestation in Indonesia. The carbon released by these activities make Indonesia the third largest greenhouse gas emitter on the planet. The majority of Indonesia's palm oil exports are destined for China, Europe and India.

"Indonesia's forests have far greater value standing, than exported as palm oil and timber," said Maitar. "It is crucial that Indonesia's forests are protected from the rampant expansion of the palm oil and pulp industries in order to combat climate change, stop biodiversity loss and protect the livelihoods of forest-dependent peoples. This means an immediate moratorium on deforestation and international funding through the United Nations to protect forests."

The Esperanza, started the Indonesian leg of its "Forest for Climate" tour on October 6th in Jayapura, to shine the spotlight on the rampant destruction of the Paradise Forests - the last remaining ancient forests of Southeast Asia.

Greenpeace is calling on the Indonesian government to implement an immediate moratorium on all forest conversion, including expansion of oil palm plantations, industrial logging, and other drivers of deforestation.

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