Dear friends of the rainforests,

Time is running out for Papua’s nature.

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo intends to sacrifice 1.2 million hectares of forest and smallholder land in Papua for industrial rice plantations.

This would spell the end for a unique ecosystem of rainy and dry forests, wetlands, savannas and mangroves.

Resistance to the project is growing in the remote province. “Giving up our land would be suicide,” said one village elder.

More than 86,000 have signed our petition in support of Papua’s activists and indigenous people. Please add your voice – we will be delivering the signatures to the Indonesian government in Jakarta next week.

 

TAKE ACTION >>

 

Thanks for being involved,

Reinhard Behrend
Rainforest Rescue (Rettet den Regenwald e.V.)

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Background details

Indonesia’s President Widodo took office in 2014 promising to protect forests and respect the rights of indigenous people. Now he wants to turn 1.2 million hectares of rainforest and indigenous land in Papua into industrial plantations. Let’s remind him of his election promise.

Over the next three years, 1.2 million hectares in Merauke, Papua, would be turned into industrial rice plantations featuring state-of-the-art technology. “We will make Merauke into the rice bowl of Indonesia and the world,” President Widodo proclaimed. “We have millions of hectares at our disposal!” In the medium term, no less than 4.6 million hectares of rice plantations may be realized.

What he did not say is that all of Merauke would disappear under rice paddies. It would spell the end for a unique ecosystem of rainy and dry forests, wetlands, savannas and mangroves. The traditional culture and way of life of the 70,000 indigenous Malind, who live scattered throughout the forest and cultivate sago palms and farm small plots, would also vanish.

We live off of the forest and sago, not rice,” says a village elder. “Surrendering our land would be suicide. Without it, there will be no place for our children and grandchildren.”

The Malind families have good reason to be alarmed by the new plans: the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE), an industrial-scale agricultural project, has been taking shape since 2010. In only four to five years, more than one million hectares – a quarter of the district – fell into the hands of agricultural corporations that are clearing the land for oil palms, sugarcane and eucalyptus.

President Joko Widodo took office promising to protect the forests and respect the rights of indigenous people. Call on him to keep his promise and preserve Papua’s unique natural landscapes.