Muara Tae Videoblog: The death of a forest in Indonesia

Courtesy: Environmental Investigation Agency

March 2, 2012

It’s the colours and the sounds that are most striking.

We had spent two days walking through lush, verdant forest – the last ancestral forests of Muara Tae. The close, varied greens teeming with life could not have stood in greater contrast to the landscape that now stood in front of us. A monochrome, muddy yellow broken only by piles of dead, drying vegetation. A lone excavator, resplendent in Hitachi orange, plied its trade in the distance.

The soundtrack of the forest was a cacophony of unseen insects and birds, rising to crescendos and punctuated by squawks, never stopping, day or night. The symphony of a working forest, its players engaged in ceaseless improvisation. Here, all that was gone. We killed the rattling engine and walked into the area cleared by a plantation company to deafening silence.

The forest was cleared in October 2011 by the Malaysian-owned plantation company PT Munte Waniq Jaya Perkasa. By customary law, it belonged to the indigenous Dayak Benuaq community of Muara Tae, a small village in East Kalimantan. But over the past two decades, Indonesian authorities have carved up their land, ignoring Muara Tae’s indigenous land rights, and handed it to large mining and plantation firms.

During the past year EIA, along with our Indonesian partner Telapak, has sought to draw attention to the fate of the Dayak Benuaq.

For more than three centuries, they have used these forests sustainably and it is due to their careful husbandry that any still stands. Their fight for the right to maintain their traditional livelihoods pitches them against the might of the Indonesian Government, with its stodgy bureaucracy, and multi-million-dollar companies headquartered in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur.

In January this year, EIA travelled into the interior of East Kalimantan to meet the Dayak Benuaq, bear witness to their struggle and bring their story to the wider world.

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6 Comments

Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Forests and Climate Change, Illegal logging, Independent Media, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Videos

6 responses to “Muara Tae Videoblog: The death of a forest in Indonesia

  1. Pingback: Muara Tae Videoblog: The death of a forest in Indonesia | Mobilization for Climate Justice

  2. Wolfgang Beer

    Horrible !

  3. Indonesian

    im sorry if my country cannot protected our forest from Malaysian Company.
    Not only in Kalimanan,but also in Sumatera. Malaysian company was destroying Indonesian forest. So what can you do to help us..?

    • One thing people here can do is refuse to buy any products with palm oil. It is only a small step, but you would be amazed how many products use palm oil as an ingredient to replace hydrogenated oils. If people find a product with palm oil in it, send the company this blog post with the video to their email address. Let them see what devastation their “green” choice is causing.

      • Indonesian

        Im totaly agree with you. But palm oil is one of 9 most important products in Indonesia. So it too hard if Indonesian people refuse to use palm oil. That’s fact. I hope your project will bring back Indonesian forest to Indonesian people,giving justice for us,for orangutans,and for trees who produce oxigen for our earth.
        Indonesian people will support you.

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