West Papua Diary

Why Forest Protection In West Papua Is A Green Investment

West Papua's environmental development

Deforestation has always been the issue when it comes to environmental management. As part of West Papua’s environmental development, this issue needs to be addressed and dealt with too. After all, forest protection in West Papua (and also Papua) is also a green investment.

West Papua and Papua may be the two provinces with the largest tropical forest area worldwide by the third. They play a vital world in reducing climate change. With a total of 34-million-hectare forest land, it gives a decent amount of space for diversity in terms of cultures and biology. Forest protection has been a lifetime commitment to avoid a wide variety of plant and animal species. There is no bargain to this.

According to IDH, the forest in both Papua and West Papua are in a serious situation. Economic development has turned into a threat to it. The threats to the forest are called extractive and unsustainable commodity activities. Since many indigenous Papuans live where most of the forest is (the highlands), the forest loss has never been more critical as it is now.

Involve The Papuans More!

When it comes to economic and social development, the focus is on human resources. That is why the accelerated development has been suggested and worked on in West Papua and Papua. The methods should follow the local cultures and be suitable to what the Papuans need to improve local human resources quality.

Still, social and economic development does not mean the green environment has to be sacrificed. Keeping the forest intact should also be part of the whole development. That is why the indigenous Papuans should be involved in making that happen.

Another thing that has been done so far was the Meeting on Green Investment for both provinces organized by IDH. It was done on February 27, 2020. At this event, the Minister who coordinated Maritime and Investment of Indonesia was collaborating with Papuans’ vice governor as part of their lifetime commitment to protecting the natural environment in both provinces. In this case, the natural environment includes: keeping the forest intact, protecting maritime life, and preserving and conserving biodiversity.

This long-term effort has also been supported by private companies (about 40) and dozens of more civil organizations. These included the young Papuans in their organizations, indigenous groups, and religious clerics. This meeting was held in Sorong.

As part of the long-term commitment from the meeting, business models using fewer carbon and financing models with more innovation were created for the next decade. These are the ways to protect the forest as part of the green investment.

Forest Cover Protection – A Way To Protect The Forest As The Green Investment?

According to an article in Jakarta Post on April 3, 2020, international researchers supported the Indonesian Government to stop Papua’s oil palm plantation development. The reason was to support far “greener” cash crops, which were the natural green environment in Papua and West Papua’s forest.

The activists agreed that the effort would impact the green investment in Papua and West Papua. According to them, it would make a huge difference to the lives of the poor, indigenous Papuans and preventing deforestation.

Researchers from Madrid Polytechnic University published a research study with the title “Understanding the Expansion of Oil Palm Cultivation: A Case Study in Papua” in The Journal of Cleaner Production. They argued that preventing the forest cover to turn into more plantations might benefit the Papuans more than supporting Indonesia’s most profitable export commodity. 

This investigation was done based on the research study on PT.Rimba Matoa Lestari, a company behind the oil palm plantation development. Instead of cutting down forest in order to make oil palm plantation, keeping forest cover was indeed a better way to benefit the indigenous Papuans more economically.

The research study had also surveyed the locals working on the plantation and the village residents nearby in December 2016. Yes, the plantation may have supported and improved the standard of living among the locals. It had also increased life expectancy and given the locals more access to education.

However, for the long term, the loss of forest may turn the situation around badly. That is why the Government preferred gaining greater economic benefits with water, food, wood, and materials for medicine, according to the same study.

Dominggus Mandacan, the governor of West Papua, stated that his administration was committed to keeping 70% of the forest cover as part of the “green investment”. Mandacan had already discussed the matter with Vice President Ma’ruf Admin.

Protecting the forest is part of the environmental development in West Papua and also Papua. In the long run, this will provide more economic benefits and more life expectancy.

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