Articles by "deforestation"
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Bintang Papua, 12 October 2011The UN Commission to Combat Racial Discrimination and Protect the Rights of Indigenous People has sent a letter to the Indonesian ambassador to Geneva, Anwar Kemal, regarding several matters.

In the first place, to agree to invite the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights to visit Indonesia in connection with MIFEE, the Merauke Integrated Energy and Food Project in West Papua. In the second place to hold talks with CERD for this matter to be discussed at the forthcoming meeting of the Committee in Geneva from 13 February – 13 March 2012. And thirdly, to to make available comprehensive information regarding all the matters contained in the afore-mentioned latter.

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Papua, the Indonesian part of the island of New Guinea, belongs to the lungs of this world as it contains 31,5 million acres of tropical rain forest.

 If the trees were to be cut, it would mean a threat to the livelihood and culture of many Papuan tribes. Deforestation means the destruction of their medicinal and food resources, expelling their ancestors and committing a heinous crime against nature. Deforestation will lead to suffering, disaster and chaos for the Papuans The forests form a part of their heritage.

 Yet, deforestation also offers opportunity. The cutting of forest to make way for Palm oil plantations, could provide an important source of income for Papua.   However, among the UN, the world Bank and the private sector, there are plans to use existing rainforests as a form of exchange for the REDD Program( Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest degradation in Developing countries. Through this mechanism underdeveloped countries are then paid to retain the trees in their forests. This mechanism would enable Papuans to fight against deforestation but no firm commitments were made at the UN Summit in December 2009 in order to counteract climate change in this way.

 1. The significance  of the forest
 2. Much of the tropical rainforest can be saved
 3. Ilegal logging on the political agenda
 4. Case study at Wasur
 5.  The Forests belong to the Papuans
 6.  Environmental benefit is lost by logging forests
 7. Climate change and Palm oil Plantations
 8. Purchase of sustainable palm oil on the increase in EU-Countries
 9. Links
10. Sources
1. The significance  of the forest                                       

 Papuans know the value of their forests from their own cultural tradition, which is passed on from one generation to the next. They did not need to be informed of this by either the Dutch or the Indonesian rulers. To them it is not a resource that needs cutting in order to earn millions of dollars. The forest has quite a different meaning  for Papuans. It is regarded as part of their community. A Papuan community consists of live individuals as well as the spirits of their forefathers and aspects of nature itself. Each community, the clan as well as the tribe within it, has its own designated piece of forest. From a cultural perspective, a Papuan is never separated  from the forest. Papuans are self-sufficient and look for food, such as sago, in the direct vicinity.  The deeper significance of the rain forest is explained by the following Papuan expression: ’Hutan adalah mama’( the forest is our mother.) The rainforest is a symbol of fertility and reproduction.

More than half trees in Papua New Guinea could be lost by 2021, according to a new satellite study of the region. The University of Papua New Guinea and the Australian National University conducted the stady that  found that deforestation is much more widespread than was previously thought, even in so-called conservation areas. Papua New Guinea (PNG) has the world's third largest tropical forest, but it was being cleared or degraded at a rate of 362,000 hectares (895,000 acres) a year in 2001, the report said. The destruction will drive global warming, because tropical forests are an important store of carbon.

 "The unfortunate reality is that forests in Papua New Guinea are being logged repeatedly and wastefully with little regard for the environmental consequences and with at least the passive complicity of government authorities." Phil Shearman, lead author of the study

 The researchers compared satellite images taken over three decades from the early 1970s. In 1972, the country had 38m hectares (94m acres), of rainforest covering 82% of the country. About 15% of that was cleared by 2002.

PNG was a founder of the Rainforest Coalition, a group of tropical nations that say rich countries should pay them to protect their forests as a way of tackling climate change. But the new study suggests many of the vulnerable trees could be removed by the time such an agreement is in place.

 Belden Namah, PNG forests minister, said the government was already taking steps to review its logging policies: "There's a need for rapid action to replace trees that have been cut. And I believe for every tree that has been cut, we should plant three more new trees. That is one major policy I am looking at." The country earns US$176m (£89m) from commercial logging each year.

 The report said deforestation was occurring at the same rate in protected and unprotected areas and justified a significant reduction in logging in Papua New Guinea. Any new forestry programmes should involve small and medium-scale, locally-owned and managed operations where commercial activities are more likely to be environmentally sustainable, it said.

Full Story HERE
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For the indigenous people of West Papua, the forest is their food source and the home of their ancestors.

For the Indonesian government, who illegally took control of the region in 1969, it is a lucrative asset, ripe for exploitation by foreign companies.

“Massive deforestation means many Papuans in the Merauke district will lose their source of livelihood,” explains Benny Wenda, an exiled tribal leader from West Papua.

”Most do not have the skills to compete with workers from outside the area to work on industrial agriculture projects. I am also concerned that deforestation will lead to conflict between tribes, who will be competing for food and resources.”

In the face of violent oppression and intimidation from the Indonensian military, Papuans like Benny continue to call for a referendum on independence.

Indonesian company Medco announced last year that it was to use acres of forest in West Papua, Indonesia, to cash in on the increased demand for wood pellets for ‘green’ biomass plants in Europe and the US.

Medco’s management plan, for an area still covered in rainforest, states:

“The land will be divided into six regions in which all broad-leaved trees in one of the six regions will be completely cut down.”

The forests and livelihoods of indigenous peoples in Merauke are already under threat from palm oil expansion for agrofuels, a mega-rice project and mining.

Find out more about the Free West Papua campaign.

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Wayne Melrose (BAppSc, ThDip, MPHTM, FACTM, FAIMS, MNZIMLS)

Tropical Infectious and Parasitic Diseases Unit, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, James Cook University, Townsville Qld 4811, Australia.

The nation of Papua New Guinea occupies the eastern half of the island of New Guinea. It lies wholly within the tropics and is centred around 5oS and 145oE. The mean annual rainfall is 2000 mm, and the average temperature exceeds 25oC. Despite the high rainfall, there are often water shortages in Papua New Guinea because the rainfall is seasonal, with about 85% of rainfall occurring in the "wet" season, which can start anywhere between December and May, and range in length from 2 to 4 months. The total land area of PNG is 460,000 sq km and consists of coastal lowlands and a rugged, mountainous interior. The population of PNG is around 4.7 million and is increasing at the rate of 2.5% per year. The most populous area is the highlands with a population density of 18 people per sq km. By contrast, the lowlands have a density of 3 persons per sq km. Eighty five percent of the population live in rural areas but there is increasing urban drift, with people moving to the cities to find work (Attenborough and Alpers, 1992; Papua new Guinea On-Line, 2000). The total forested area of PNG is around 39 million ha out of a total land area of 46.2 million ha. Thirty three million ha is classified as virgin forest, making it the largest stand of such forest on earth (Mullins, 1994). The PNG government has classified 21 million ha as "protected forest" which occupies slopes too steep for logging. Much of the lowland swamp country soils are too poor to support growth of large trees, and the official estimate of productive forests is 18 million ha (Papua New Guinea Information Unit, 1989).

Current estimates of forest destruction are hard to come by, but in the late 1980's forest was being lost at a rate of 21,000 - 22,000 ha per year (Hurst, 1990; Mullins, 1994). Forest product production has increased from 300,000 cubic metres in 1969 to over 1.7 million cubic metres in 1989. Most of these exports are in the form of logs, so Papua New Guinea misses out on any "value added" component that would result if timber were milled locally. Foreign investors, mainly Japanese, Malaysian, Korean, and Chinese, dominate the timber industry. In the late 1980's local timber companies only had rights to one fifth of the available logging concessions (Barry, 2000).

Full Paper: Go HERE
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Greenpeace Indonesia has noted that every year the rate of deforestation in the West Papua region reaches as much as 300,000 ha. Severe deforestation is occurring in southern Papua, particularly areas packed with oil palm plantations.

“That’s what our research shows in 2009 and 2010. By now the destruction to the forests there may have worsened,” said Charles Tawaru, coordinator of Greenpeace in Papua, Friday, August 10, 2012.

The mega project, Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE), and logging by forest concession holders contributes greatly to the increased deforestation of Papua, Tawaru said.

The list of demolition activities is staggering: MIFEE, 228,022 ha in Merauke and 45,000 ha in Sidey, Manokwari; PT Hendrison Iriana, 21,500 ha for palm plantation in Sorong regency (Klamono); PT Raja Wali Group/PT Tandan Sawita Papua, 18,337 ha in Kampung Yetti, Keroom Regency.

“The exploitation of the forest is becoming uncontrollable, exacerbated by government officials who lack wisdom or care for Papua,” said Tawaru.

Concern over the rate of deforestation has moved Greenpeace to hold a Cenderawasih Tour in November this year.

“The purpose of our action it to call for the protection and preservation of Papua forests,” he said.

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| National | Sun, October 19 2008, 3:52 PM

International NGO Greenpeace warns against increasing deforestation activities in Papua province.

 "During our helicopter flight over Papua's forests this past week, we witnessed the beauty of our last rain forests. At the same time, we also saw deforestation activities," Bustar Maitara of Greenpeace was quoted by Antara news agency as saying in Manokwari, Papua.

 Using the Esperanza ship, Greenpeace toured the coastal areas of Papua and saw evidences of deforestation, including the opening of forests for palm oil plantations belonging to a prominent national business group.

 "The Papuan forests are in danger due to the expansion of palm oil plantations as well as illegal logging. We have to take a stance to protect Indonesian forests and global climate by encouraging the Indonesian government to stop deforestation," Bustar said.

 Greenpeace's Esperanza toured the coastal area of Papua, starting from Papua's provincial capital of Jayapura on Oct. 6. The ship is anchored in Manokwari and is scheduled to leave for Jakarta on Sunday.

 The Esperanza will remain in Indonesia until Nov. 15.
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The forests of Papua New Guinea are being chopped down so quickly that more than half its trees could be lost by 2021, according to a new satellite study of the region.

The study, by the University of Papua New Guinea and the Australian National University, found that deforestation is much more widespread than was previously thought, even in so-called conservation areas. Papua New Guinea (PNG) has the world's third largest tropical forest, but it was being cleared or degraded at a rate of 362,000 hectares (895,000 acres) a year in 2001, the report said.

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The demand for unprocessed logs from Asian markets is the greatest cause of forest loss in Papua New Guinea. Papua New Guinea is the world's fifth largest producer of tropical logs (PNG Resources First Quarter 1997 ). Most of the world's tropical logs are processed domestically by the producing countries, not so with Papua New Guinea. Subject to Indonesia's re-entry into the round log market, behind Malaysia, Papua New Guinea has been the world's second largest exporter of tropical raw logs (Light, 1997). Japan has been the largest importer of Papua New Guinea's logs, with South Korea being the second largest import market (AusAid, 1997). Other significant importers of tropical raw logs from Papua New Guinea have in the past been Malaysia, Philippines, China, Hong Kong and India.

The end of 1997 and the beginning of 1998 saw the effects of the downturn in the Japanese economy and the devaluation of South East Asian currencies on the Papua New Guinean log market. By the end of the first quarter in 1998 the Japanese log market had fallen away. Overall Papua New Guinean log export volumes had fallen by 40%, and prices were down 58% ( The Independent June 26, 1998). The Government of Papua New Guinea sought to prop-up loggers by reducing the log export tax on logs priced less than K135 per cubic metre (The National July 30, 1998)

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"Compendium of Discussion Papers in the Oceania region" Brian D. Brunton, Forest Campaigner, Greenpeace Pacific Pacific Bioweb, Nadi, Fiji  28 & 29 September, 1998

In Papua New Guinea, we are still in a position where a very large area of the planet's natural forests can be saved. We have about five to ten years to bring forest loss under control. After that time population growth will make forest planning and management very difficult. Current policies and practices point to us loosing this struggle. It is likely that during the lives of our children, the accessible production forests will vanish. Our children will be left with forests on mountains, in wet-lands, in parks and in a few other inaccessible places.

Large areas of the country will become degraded secondary-growth, gardens, and agricultural land.

The extent of deforestation in Papua New Guinea is under question, because there is an intense political struggle over the issue of sustainability in mixed species tropical forests, unchallenged statistics are hard to come by, and the public have difficulty accessing the most recent assessments in the Forest Inventory Mapping System ( paid for by Australian aid). One view is that Papua New Guinea has a total millable forest area of 70,000 Under existing regulations, which may be changed, about 100,000 of forest is considered unsuitable for industrial logging because of inundation (swamp), or elevation (mountains). Each year, it is claimed, we clear 2 percent of our millable forests. By the end of the century we will have cleared 18 percent of our millable forests. At current rates a total clearance of millable forests will be achieved in the year 2032. (FAO State of the World's Forests, Rome, 1997). The Papua New Guinea Forest Authority disputes these figures, says that the FAO statistics are outdated and over-blown, preferring figures of their own that indicate the forests are being logged at a "sustainable rate".