Fire set to clear peatland in Indonesia
An Indonesian company and its Chinese partner have pushed
ahead with an industrial wood plantation in a forest in Borneo, flouting a moratorium
on the drainage and exploitation of Indonesia’s peatlands.
Photos and drone footage captured by activists in late July
showed earth-moving machinery, a drainage canal full of water and the planting
of seedlings in the Sungai Putri forest, despite an order in March from the
Environment and Forestry Minister to cease operations.
Exploitation of the 57,000-hectare rainforest is supported
by district officials in West Kalimantan, who claim the Chinese wood processing
firm Benshang Advanced Materials Co. will invest $300 million in the area. But
the industrial development of the forest contravenes a national moratorium on
the exploitation of peatlands which was put in place to prevent a recurrence of
the devastating forest fires of 2015.
Greenpeace has warned that the drainage of the Sungai Putri
peatlands would create a significant fire risk, threatening the area’s
communities and population of 1,200 critically endangered orangutans.