Greenpeace Southeast Asia

The community takes the lead as activists return to the camp by Chuck Baclagon

From Ashish, a Campaigner from India, who has finally arrived at the camp:

We got into the Climate Defenders Camp late Friday night, the yellow Greenpeace banner emerging out of the night as our boat crossed the river from Teluk Banjai. I got to Jakarta over a week ago, and was beginning to wonder if I would ever see the camp, after the police harassment and deportations of last week. But I was finally here. There wasn’t time for much more than a round of introductions, some dinner and then sleep.

This morning however, I got my first good look around the area. We first headed for the dam across one of the canals which is draining the peatland. Work on the dam started about three weeks ago, and it is almost finished. These canals have been dug to drain peat waters into the river, rendering the peatland dry enough for commercial cultivation; by damming the canal we are reversing the process and restoring health to the peatland, aside from preventing further CO2 loss.

The best bit about this effort is that it is the community of the nearby village of Teluk Maranti taking the lead, with Greenpeace supporting. Bustar, Indonesia forests campaigner, says this is because they are convinced of the benefits. Aside from their dependence on the forest, the peat waters are also highly acidic and a sudden increase in peat water flowing into the river affects fish and shrimp productivity.

Next we headed to the Kerumutan conservation area, further upstream of Teluk Maranti. This 1000 square km area is being protected, and offers a glimpse of what these peatland forests should look like, if we only left them alone. Calm but murky peat waters reflect the leaves and
branches above them, and the many fish traps along the way show that the waters provide an important source of livelihood for the community.

Tomorrow I will be heading back to the dam, this time to help in the construction. So far we haven’t been harassed by the police, maybe they’re taking a weekend break! And even as I send this, our many friends from Teluk Meranti have arrived to visit us! Later!

>> Read more about the Climate Defenders Camp

>> Join the call for an ambitious deal at the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen this December including a forest fund

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