Friday, 25 September 2009

Sumatra Deforestation

Deforestation on Sumatra: Indonesia, Riau province,
This aerial photo taken by Greenpeace shows man-made forest fires in a company concession located in the Giam Siak Kecil area in Sumatra’s western Riau province. The area is being cleared for palm oil plantations. Some environmentalists have called the process unworkable and dangerous. While Indonesia has been the first country to formally introduce Redd pilot programmes, it is still laying plans to clear vast tracts of forests for timber, paper and palm oil, experts have said Photograph: John Novis/greenpeace/AFP
The Indonesian island of Sumatra is being deforested as fast as almost anywhere in the world. One of the logging companies responsible, PT Lontar Papirup Pulp and Papers, is a subsidiary of Asia Pulp & Paper, itself a subsidiary of the powerful Indonesian conglomerate Sinar Mas. So it is not easy for journalists to draw attention to this ecological disaster. Cyril Payen, the Southeast Asia correspondent of several French media, investigated illegal logging by PT Lontar Papirup Pulp and Papers, but he and his crew were arrested by company security guards on 10 July 2009 as they were filming trucks being loaded with timber. The company's head of security tried to seize their video cassettes before handing them over to the local police, who continued to hold them until they were freed as a result of protests from the local media. Many international corporations do business with Sinar Mas without a thought for Sumatra's deforestation. Referring to Sinar Mas, Payen told Reporters Without Borders: "They buy journalists or threaten them with lawsuits. Although the Indonesian media are free, they do not do enough reporting on the rampant deforestation that is taking place."