Greenpeace sails into Papua to protect rainforest ‘Eden’

Feature story - March 14, 2006
On a mission to protect the Paradise Forests, the last ancient forests in Asia-Pacific, from illegal and destructive logging, Greenpeace flagship, Rainbow Warrior, sails into the Indonesian province of Papua to preserve the newly discovered 'Graden of Eden' in the Indonesian jungle that is home to dozens of new animal and plant species.

Papuans welcome the Greenpeace flagship, Rainbow Warrior, which sailed into the Indonesian province of Papua for the first time today on a mission to protect the Paradise Forests, the last ancient forests in Asia-Pacific, from illegal and destructive logging.

The Greenpeace flagship, Rainbow Warrior, sailed into the Indonesian province of Papua for the first time today as part of a global campaign to help protect the world's last ancient forests. Greenpeace is on a mission to protect the Paradise Forests, the last ancient forests in Asia-Pacific, from illegal and destructive logging, and is launching an eco-forestry programme in Papua to offer community-based forest management as an alternative to large-scale, industrial logging.

"The Paradise Forests of Asia Pacific are brimming with unimaginable diversity of life," said Emmy Hafild, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.  "But these forests and the life they support are being destroyed faster than any other on Earth, driven by demand for timber in Europe, US, Japan and China."   

Scientists from Conservation International recently discovered a 'Garden of Eden' in Papua's Foja Mountains, an area untouched by man and full of new species, including frogs, butterflies,plants and a new type of bird called the orange-faced honeyeater.i  

Dr. Jatna Supriatna, Director of Conservation International Indonesia, said: "Our discovery of new species underlined the importance of saving the pristine forests of Papua. Possibilities are high that we will find more new species in the area. These forests, however, are under threat from large-scale destruction before we may fully know what kind of flora and fauna live in them."

Deforestation rates in Indonesia are among the highest in the world with at least 1.9 million hectares of forest destroyed every year for the last five yearsii, equivalent to six football fields a minute.  In total, Indonesia has already lost more than 72% of its large intact ancient forest areas and 40% of its forest have been completely destroyed iii.  Much of the logging in Indonesia is illegal and, according to Indonesia Forest Minister, Malam Sambat Kaban, "defrauds" the country of USD$ 4 billion each year.iv 

Greenpeace is calling on governments in both timber producing countries, like Indonesia, and timber consuming countries, like China, Japan, US and the EU member states, to adopt strong measures to combat illegal and destructive logging and to establish a comprehensive network of protected areas around the world with effective law enforcement and management.

"Timber producing and consuming countries must work together to stop illegal and destructive logging. It is only through regional and international cooperation that we can protect the world's last ancient forests for future generations," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia Forest campaigner, Hapsoro.

As well as exposing forest crimes, Greenpeace is working with communites in Papua and Papua New Guinea to set up responsible forestry initiatives. In Papua, Greenpeace will host a forum that aims to build a network of communities working together on eco-forestry enterprises. On the other side of the island, meanwhile, Greenpeace volunteers from around the world have built a Global Forest Rescue Station in Lake Murray, Western Province, Papua New Guinea, where they are helping customary landowners mark the boundaries of their land, a first step towards protecting it from the logging industry and a basis for eco-forestry in the area.

Greenpeace forest crimes unit is also on patrol in the Amazon, exposing the devastating impacts of deforestation in the lead up to the Summit for Life on Earth, the meeting of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity which begins on March 20th in Brazil.

Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organisation, which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force solutions essential to a green and peaceful future. It is committed to protecting the world's last ancient forests and the people and animals that depend upon them.

For further information:
Greenpeace Southeast Asia Forest Campaigner, Hapsoro: (m) +62 8121 108 256

Greenpeace Southeast Asia Communications Officer, Nabiha Shahab: (m) +62 8131 421 3432

Dr. Jatna Supriatna, Director of Conservation International Indonesia: (m) +62 8111 54243

For more information on our work in the Paradise Forests go to: Images are available on request.

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