West Papua Ecocide – Natural resources in Papua, namely flora, fauna, timber and mineral forest products, are widely used by the people.
However, the West Papua ecocide is considered to have seriously disturbed the ancestral places and sources of life there.
Forests for Papuan People
Papua’s forests are the only Indonesian forests with the highest biodiversity level in the world, with 20,000 plant species, 602 bird species, 125 mammals and 223 reptiles.
Forests are also the primary source of livelihood for indigenous peoples.
There are 1,394 villages within the forest area, 4,070 on the edge and around the forest, and 2,075 outside the forest.
In addition, there are 118,963 families of indigenous Papuans who are still in the category of forest product collectors.
The data illustrates how the lives of indigenous peoples in Papua, for generations, have been interdependent with forest ecosystems.
For the indigenous Papuan people, land and forests are mothers who must be devoted to and have an ancestral heritage that must safeguard.
More than that, the forest for Papuans is a living ecosystem that characterizes the nation’s culture.
In the ecosystem of life, forests are considere subjects that are believe to have essential values that complement the dignity and existence of indigenous peoples’ rights.
Ecocide: Crimes to Nature
Crime on a mass scale began to penetrate environmental aspects. Ecocide is a capitalist crime orient towards exploiting the land and natural wealth.
The philosophy is that natural wealth should used entirely for the benefit of human life. Often ecocide crimes subordinate to crimes against humanity or war crimes.
West Papua Ecocide is one of the extraordinary things that has drawn a lot of criticism from environmental observers.
The long journey to return Papua to Indonesia must paid tribute in the form of environmental exploitation.
At this time, cases of deforestation are rife. Forests that are usually used by the community are decreasing. Deforestation mainly done to clear land for oil palm plantations.
Over the past two decades, the natural forest cover of Tanah Papua has shrunk by more than 600 hectares, which occurred from 2001 to 2019.
The highest deforestation activity occurred in 2015, which removed nearly 80 hectares in a year.
This deforestation can lead to ecocidal crimes, because ecocide is an environmental and ecological destruction, which can also result in the loss of specific ethnic identities.
Bad Effects of Deforestation
West Papua Ecocide may not be as closely associated with war crimes as in some countries. However, there remains the potential for lost generations in degraded environments.
This massive damage makes ecocide in general, and West Papua Ecocide in particular, associated with crimes against humanity.
Environmental damage means eliminating the source of livelihood for the people who live in that place.
In addition, the impact of rampant deforestation, among others, namely:
- Widespread and massive environmental damage in West Papua;
- Loss of livelihood sources of food and natural medicines from the forest;
- Many endemic animals have become extinct; and
- Forest destruction also contributes to climate change.
Other Impacts of West Papua Ecocide
Deforestation means the conversion of forest to land that is not forest permanently.
So, indirectly, deforestation changes the function initially of environmental preservation and forest ecosystems into other activities, especially for plantations and mining.
Apart from causing ecological disasters, deforestation also triggers conflict and human rights violations. That is why deforestation is include in the category of ecological savagery because it is destructive.
If put in the context of indigenous Papuans, deforestation can be categorize as an act of cultural genocide.
Because the forest for the Papuan people, apart from cultural identity and living space, also holds various life-historical and social values.
We must understand the West Papua Ecocide from a more specific approach because the cultural ecosystem, political wound background and ecological grief differ from other parts of Indonesia.