(Palm oil companies) "Do not grab our forest": The people of Tura
Jakarta, 16 December 2008 – Around 15,000 hectares of community forest in Central Kalimantan will be cleared for the expansion of palm oil plantations, threatening the livelihood of more than 2,500 people. The community of Tura, Tumbang Tanjung and Tumbang Lahang villages along the Katingan river, are concerned of the impending disaster that will come when their forest is taken away by the companies. Their apprehension is expressed in a film, titled "Petak Danum Itah" or "Our Homeland", made by the community themselves with the support of the Centre for Orangutan Protection was premiered in Jakarta today.
"I can imagine what a nightmare it will be for us if the forest where we gather rattan and farm will be cleared away to make way for the palm oil plantations. What else will our grandchildren inherit?
The President of Indonesia should know that our livelihood is being taken away by these palm oil companies," said Daryatmo, the village head of Tumbang Tura, one of the villages in the district of Pulau Malan.
"We have heard horror stories from our friends in neighbouring villages that had given up their ancestral land to the palm oil companies. Most of them are not able to gather rattan and tap rubber anymore. It was their main source of income and now most of the workers in the plantation come from outside the area and took away even the only other option to make a living.They cannot even catch fish because the river is polluted," he said at the film preview.
At least 15 companies have received concession rights to clear the forest and plant palm oil in the area. According to a survey by BOS Foundation and the Ministry of Forestry in December 2006, at least 1,500 orangutans inhabit three concession areas of PT Makin Group along the Katingan River. A total clearing of the area will wipe out the endangered species and the possibility of preserving an area, that if a thorough survey is carried out may have an astounding wealth of biodiversity.
"COP decided to work with the people of Tura village. Our objective is
clear: to save the forest. This will not only save at least 1,500 orangutans but also the lives of thousands of people dependent on the forest,"said Novi Hardianto, Habitat Program Coordinator of the Centre for Orangutan Protection.
Novi Hardianto, COP Habitat Program Coordinator, +62 819 817911
COP: Centre for Orangutan Protection