Palm oil company plunder of Indonesia’s last forest frontier gathers pace

Feature story - October 10, 2008
Greenpeace today revealed fresh evidence of massive conversion of Papua’s intact ancient forest for palm oil plantation in the Lereh area of Jayapura district.

8 october 2008, Papua Province, Indonesia The sharp contrast between the pristine forest and forest destroyed 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 countryÕs greenhouse gas emissions, safeguard the wealth of tropical biodiversity and protect the livelihood of forest dependent communities.

Greenpeace ship MV Esperanza launched the "Forest for Climate" tour of Indonesia earlier this week in Jayapura to highlight the catastrophic impacts of deforestation in the ancient forests of Indonesia on the global climate, leading to biodiversity loss and devastation of forest-dependent people. 

Just three months ago this area, like much of Papua, was pristine forest. What we see today is forest clearing on a massive scale, including evidence of land burning to prepare the land for palm oil

Palm oil companies have been amassing large banks of land for future conversion to palm oil plantations, usually at the expense of local landowners. Greenpeace has gathered recent evidence that companies like Sinar Mas are now beginning to clear vast tracts of pristine forest areas. 

The forests of the Lereh region contain a wealth of primary sago and nipah plants, daily necessities of life for local communities. Sago is the food staple of Papua's people and is an essential source of daily nutrition, and nipah is used in home building. The destruction of these forests will also result in the destruction of the communities that depend on them for their livelihoods. The rapid expansion of oil palm plantations is currently the biggest driver of deforestation in Indonesia. 

It is crucial that the last remaining intact tracts of Indonesia's forest are protected in order to combat climate change. We need an immediate moratorium on all forest conversion in Indonesia to help curb the country's greenhouse gas emissions, safeguard the wealth of tropical biodiversity and protect the livelihood of forest dependent communities 

The Esperanza, now en-route from Jayapure to Manokwari in West Papua, will be in Indonesia until 15 November. 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.