Dutch Social Forum, May 2006
[ Nederlands ]
Papua Lobby participated in the Dutch Social Forum held in Nijmegen, the Netherlands in May 2006. With Greenpeace and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature IUCN Papua Lobby organised a workshop on biodiversity in Papua and the dire consequences of indiscriminate exploitation of the rainforest.
Viktor Kaisiëpo (Papua Lobby and Dewan Adat Papua): West Papua enjoys a great bio-diversity and cultural diversity. In Papua New Guinea and West Papua there are so many untouched forests that companies and governments think they can just take them away. But these forests are the property of the people that are living there. For generations, the Papuan peoples have protected and used these forests for their survival. Logging is not only affecting the bio-diversity but also the social and economic position of the Papuan peoples.
Papuans and their organizations ask for recognition as autonomous political actors in the development of their land. The Papuans should have a prominent role in the conservation of the flora and fauna in the land where the Papuan peoples are living, working and dying.
For the construction of the Olympic village, China plans to log merbau in West Papua on a large scale. It can not be that the Papuans should sacrifice their forests for a one-time sport event. China has banned large-scale logging in its own country because it led to landslides causing many casualties. Are Chinese lives more important than Papuan lives? A great part of illegally logged wood in West Papua, enters the European and American markets through China. In Europe we need a conscientisation program to make people aware not to buy illegal wood.
Indonesia has huge problems in maintaining its own laws and regulations. The Indonesian elite and security forces - army and police - are involved in lucrative illegal practices. Illegal logging will continue as long as there is a market offering a good price for these products. Europe and the US should support the Papuans to halt illegal logging, a.o. by accepting stricter laws an wood imports.
Good and transparent governance (in the forestry sector) is a must to achieve sustainable use and conservation of nature and natural resources. There is a need for a moratorium on large scale logging until a forest management plan is in place that is transparent and can be maintained.
International environmental organisations like Greenpeace, IUCN and Friends of the Earth, should support capacity building in West Papua so that the Papuans themselves can be involved in the development of their land and can enjoy the fruits of sustainable use of natural resources. Development and conservation of biological diversity can only be successful if there is local support. Interview (in Dutch) with Viktor Kaisiëpo.
Hilde Stroot (Greenpeace): In the past months, Greenpeace investigated illegal logging in West Papua. Since March, the Rainbow Warrior is in the region to question illegal logging and stop loads of illegal timber. According to well-founded estimates 80% of Indonesian timber are obtained illegally. Indonesian Forest Minister Malam Sambat Kaban, believes the high deforestation rate is defrauding the government of some US$ 4 billion in taxes each year.
Kaya Lapis Indonesia (KLI) is one of the biggest logging and timber processing companies in West Papua with logging rights covering 1,4 million hectares (23% of the province's total concession area). This company is involved in illegal logging practices and is responsible for the destruction of some of the last remaining primary forests. It is illegally logging within the 50 meter buffer zones of small waterways - often the only source of fresh water for local communities - leading to siltation and clogging. Greenpeace also discovered that local communities receive less or no compensation at all for the logged trees in their forests. In West Papua logging operations - often protected by corrupt elements of Indonesian armed forces and police - can lead to serious human rights violations.
Western countries are responsible for the demand for cheap wood and therefore are stimulating illegal logging. Greenpeace has asked the Indonesian government to investigate and prosecute KLI and other companies involved in illegal and destructive logging activities. Greenpeace urges for a moratorium on large scale commercial logging activities in West Papua until good and transparent logging policies are in place. Also, Greenpeace calls for recognition of communal land rights and communal forest resource management and for the establishment of ecologically responsible projects which benefit the environment and local communities.
Mark van der Wal (IUCN): The island of New Guinea (the Western half is the Indonesian province of West Papua, the Eastern half independent state Papua New Guinea) has a great ecological diversity and richness in species, which are threatened by uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources. Big logging companies (from Indonesia, China, Malaysia and other countries) are moving their activities from Kalimantan to New Guinea. The greater part of the industrial logging in West Papua is illegal and lead to theft, corruption and environmental damage. Logging is disastrous not only for the birds of paradise but also for the local population, because logging in West Papua is often linked to serious human rights violations.
Recently, it became known that the government of the People's Republic China is seeking approval for the construction of a timber processing plant in West Papua to log and process 800.000 cubic meters of merbau for the construction of the Olympic Village. Merbau is a wood species used worldwide for wooden floors and only found in commercially exploitable quantities in New Guinea. Logging of such a huge volume in such a short period of time will surely lead to an ecological and socio-economic disaster, with far-reaching consequences for the sustainable development of West Papua. The Olympic sportsmen and women should collectively undertake action to support the Chinese government in making the 2008 Games truly 'Green Olympics'.
A large part of the wood from the island of New Guinea enters the world market illegally through China and Malaysia. 88% of the wood purchased by Dutch consumers has not been logged legally or sustainable and therefore contributes directly to the destruction of forests worldwide. Consumers should Consumers should avoid this wood and only buy wood with the FCS-certificate. (Forest Stewardship Council).
Nancy Jouwe (with the blue headscarf) presided over the lively discussion.
The Papuan group Mambesak entertained with music and dance.
Photos by Evelien van den Broek