Greenpeace Southeast Asia

Those dam treehuggers – saving the climate! by Chuck Baclagon

There’s lots happening at our Climate Defenders Camp now – on the ground in the Indonesian rainforest.

Activists from the camp are blocking the drainage of peat canals in the region – in order to protect the rainforest and peatlands. Paper and palm oil industries drain the carbon rich peat by creating these canals. The peat has to be drier so that oil palm and acacia can grow. Sometimes they burn the peat and remaining forest or simply knock it over with excavators. This destructive practice not only damages the local ecosystem – it adds a massive amount of climate changing carbon emissions to the Earth’s atmosphere.

Here’s some updates I have received today from the team in Indonesia:

First – from Bustar, one of our forest campaigners (who also wrote earlier here):

A few days ago we officially opened the Climate Defenders Camp in the midst of Kampar Peninsula forest. With the Kampar river in front of us and Kampar Peninsula peat lands behind, this camp is a part of our international campaign to make sure that world leaders – including Indonesia – listen to the urgent need to protect the world’s forests and to stabilize the current climate crisis.

Deforestation contributes around one fifth of global greenhouse gasses. Indonesia’s contributions are mainly caused by forest destruction with the clearance of peatlands as one of the worst offenders.

Our Climate Defenders Camp was constructed in less than 20 days – and contains facilities to support all Greenpeace activities. To sustain our energy needs – we’re using solar powered electricity. Two communications and electricity experts, Tom and Geof worked hard together to ensure these vital resources were available for our activities here – and to make sure we can send our message out to the world leaders and societies with regards to our livelihood on this planet.

Our camp is also outfitted with office facilities which allow Greenpeace staff to work, sleeping accommodation for up to 50 people, sanitation facilities, boat jetty and a small hospital for any emergencies. We’re here for two months – and couldn’t work here without this amazing camp!

Currently, the team here includes Greenpeace activists from countries like the Philippines, Thailand, Belgium, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Swill, Italy and of course Indonesia, together forming solidarity in protecting what’s left of the world’s vital rainforests – to save earth’s life.

Bustar Maitar – Greenpeace

Below is an update from one of our activists at the camp, Peterri from Finland, who has been working on building the dams

Preparations for damming work started one week ago by consulting professor Jonotoro – a biologist and peatland expert (pictured below). Together with him and his team from the university we placed water level measurement pipes to the community land. With these pipes we are able to monitor the water level inside the peat before, during and after damming. We identified a suitable canal for damming 9 km west of our camp.

During the following days we have been preparing our camp site and storage area for the damming work. We have been sourcing logs from local people and from sustainable sources. For one dam we need about 150 logs and 500 bags of sand. We have also cleared some logs and debris from the canal so we can transport materials to the damming site with a boat. The canal is only about 4 meters wide but the dam construction needs to be about 10m wide.

Today we received the first load of timber to the canal that we need. Most of the logs are 5 m long each weighting about 80 kg’s but there are also 10 m long logs! As you can imagine – these are difficult to maneuver and working in +40 C temperatures is very demanding. At this time of the month we don’t get proper high tide so we were carrying the logs 300 meters from the river to drainage canal. Hopefully the tides will work in our favour – since we need to transport a lot more materials during the coming days.

Stay tuned!


>> Read more about our Climate Defenders Camp – and our Forests for Climate Solution

>>Take Action – Call on world leaders to agree on a firm pact in Copenhagen that includes a fund to save our forests.

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