It is hard to imagine a world without forests. It will certainly be a morbid and desolate kind of future. Unfortunately, we are still threatened by this dark possibility. Our survival depends on the state of our forests and we owe it to the animals to ensure their survival, too. “Why?”, you may ask. We have long been taking advantage of nature's resources, even to the point of destroying their natural habitat for the sake of our own personal needs. 

I realise that volunteering and adding my voice to a chorus of voices fighting for the  preservation of the forests is quite an uphill battle considering we are up against giants. Through Greenpeace campaigns, I have educated myself on the irresponsible and morally reprehensible acts done by these big palm oil companies that destroy forests for profit. Every time I see a picture of a forest being burned, animals displaced and dying, or locals suffering from the haze, I couldn’t fathom this careless ignorance on the part of these corporations that project themselves to be respectable. I say ‘careless’ because it was their choice to continue ahead with the destruction of our environment. Don’t they realise that the damage they've done will not only affect us, but the rest of the world, too? Just as the melting icebergs in the Arctic pose real dangers to low lying states due to sea level rise, so does the burning of forests in Southeast Asia adversely affects both people's health and the biodiversity that it nurtures.  

The most frustrating aspect of being involved with these campaigns is the seemingly uncooperative behaviour of the responsible companies. I have always thought that they have a choice of relenting and cutting back on the scale of their production, or choosing not to expand their projects in the first place. What we are hoping for is not for these companies to stop their production, nor are we seeking punishment. What we want is for them to have a meaningful dialogue with us, to have a better understanding and reach a common goal to save and protect our forests.

If we want to survive in this world, we need to open our minds and work together. It is necessary that we enjoin others, especially the youth, the absolute importance of saving our forests. Many are still daunted by the power held by huge banks like HSBC which funds many palm oil companies. But we too have the power and capacity to take care of our forests. We must never be complacent especially when our own survival and the planet’s future is at stake.


Ezra Wilson is a Greenpeace volunteer based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia