The Dam Building Begins

by Guest Blogger

October 29, 2007

The following posting is from Hayden who is at our Forest Defenders Camp. Learn more about the camp and threats to Indonesian forests.

Today we began the process of damming the canals that drain are draining the peatland forests of the bordering palm oil concession.  We began work with about 40 people at 6am this morning, mostly volunteers from the local communities.

The first job was to finish moving all the damming materials over half a mile up one of the canals.This is a huge task that requires hours of work, as we’re talking about tons of material for each dam. We use canoes to carry the sandbags, and we float the wood poles in the canals and someone has to wade through the coffee tinted water pushing them up the canal against the current.

We are planning on building a total of 5 canals in the coming week. Assisting us are experts in canal dam building and peatland restoration from Indonesia.

In addition to the challenge of moving many tons of material over many miles, we also have the additional challenge of having to time our work with the tides.  We use high tide to move the materials up the canals, and then we use the lower tides to begin the building process of the dams.

I was fortunate enough to not have to work most of the morning, as I was supporting our para-motor pilots.  I have to stay on standby with first-aid supplies in case of any incidents.

When I finally got to one of the dam building sites most people were already exhausted.  They had been working at the site since 7am with only a break for lunch.  I helped carry wooden cants to the dam building site.  After about an hour of that I went to work with an axe sharpening the ends of the cants so they could be pounded into the ground for dam supports.  Cedar and I worked on that as many people watched, and apparently were very entertained by the site of two white guys working with axes.  We chopped on amid the laughter, and made our own jokes about the irony of working on a Greenpeace action that involves chopping wood.  Usually we’re on the other side of that.

More damn building tomorrow.  I have to make this short as bugs are attacking me and the computer I’m writing on.  Ah, one just flew into my eye.



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