In the past few months, Covid-19 pandemic has made all human activities immobilized. Sadly, the absence of human activities seems to be defenceless to halt forests from wreckage. Despite the fact that the large-scale social restriction (PSBB) last March has been imposed across Indonesia in anticipation of Covid-19 contagion, the fact shows that land clearance, logging and fires on forests areas remain rampant in Indonesia.
Ministry of Environment and Forestry’s Law Enforcement recorded that since March 2020 various devastations have happened to forests across Indonesia ranging from Sumatera island up through to Papua island in eastern Indonesia. Illegal logging still dominates the case over Indonesian forests. Forests fires remain the serious threat. As to the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), there have been 253 forest fire cases reported up through to August 2020 in Indonesia. Data from the University of Maryland’s Global Land Analysis and Discovery Laboratory analysed by Greenpeace show that Indonesian forests have been on the rise by 50% within 20 weeks in early 2020 as from that of in 2019.
On the other side, based on Landsat and Sentinel satellite imagery, EcoNusa Research Team found that 1,669 hectares of forests in the Land of Papua have gone in January-June 2020 which are equal to 2,225 soccer fields. These are due to land use change for palm oil estate. Forest clearance here was identified in Merauke, Fakfak and Manokwari. With the loss of these forested areas, 288,462 tonC of carbon stocks was released to the atmosphere.
It is inevitable fact that pro-investment policy, industrial expansion, and infrastructure development have threatened the 42.48 million hectares of forests (2018) in the Land of Papua. Despite the fact that it could in a way improve economic development, the loss of Papuan forests will incur priceless shortfall. Not to mention, the indigenous communities will lose their customary forests on which they depend much their livelihood.
West Papua Governor Dominggus Mandacan said that West Papua Province has currently been coping with serious threat of forests loss due to uncontrollable development activity. Illegal logging and land use change for palm oil plantation are the major issues. Whereas, forest in the Land of Papua has large amount of biodiversity and endemicity with major contribution of global climate balancing, global lungs that provide oxygen for living around the globe.
As part of the contribution to safeguard Indonesian future forests, particularly forests in the Land of Papua and Maluku whose forests are 38% of the total of remaining Indonesian forests currently, EcoNusa Foundation in collaboration with some Indonesian musicians organized Hutan Merdeka Concert #BeradatJagaHutan on August 29, 2020 to call for support and raise awareness particularly young generation in safeguarding forests.
During the musical performance in commemoration of the 75th Independence Day of the Republic of Indonesia, these Indonesian musicians called public to save forests. Songs on environment issues were performed by SLANK, Barasuara, Iwa K, Ipang, Hindia and Papuan singers Nowela and Michael Jakarimilena. Eastern Indonesian artists, Bengkel Mambriben and Molucca Bamboowind Orchestra, presented their works on the event.
Duo singers, Iwa K and Ipang, agreed that every custom teaches us to take care of environment. Both gave a clear message that young generation nowadays should not be deemed uncivilized generations who are ignorant in safeguarding forests.
“Never let Indonesian forests be a dragon fairy tale to our next generations. They only know the story but never see the reality,” said Iwa.
SLANK band with 37 years of existence that is eager to speak up environmental issues through their ballads also challenged Indonesian youngsters to take real action to conserve environment. Kaka of SLANK also said that forests in eastern Indonesia as the last frontiers for the future of Indonesian forests should be on the top priority despite the very aggressive development in eastern Indonesia.
“Forest is the home to every living creature. Forest is the breath of the world. Forest is the life for human. We do not want to loss life. So, if you are civilized you should have been well-mannered! Let’s take care of our forest!” Kaka bluntly spoke up amidst his performance.
Hosted by Nirina Zubir and Teukku Zacky, the event called public to protect the customary community surrounding the forests impacted by Covid-19. The indigenous community is the frontline guards that could protect forest using their local wisdom from generations to generations. The indigenous communities are the most vulnerable to Covid-19 due to their communal live with interdependence among the community members.
Read also: Covid-19 and Protection of Indigenous People of Papua
“I summon all friends to provide backup to the indigenous communities who live in the forest to protect their forests, particularly during Covid-19 pandemic. They are the leading edge to protect forest. They need our help and support to combat Covid-19,” said Bustar Maitar, EcoNusa CEO, in his opening remark on Hutan Merdeka concert aired by EcoNusa TV channel, Narasi and Republika.
Fund raising for the indigenous community is open up to October 30, 2020, through kitabisa.dom/bakudukungcegahcovid which will be channelled to the customary peoples surrounding the eastern Indonesia impacted by Covid-19 pandemic for their health and economy that have been worsened by the pandemic.
Amidst the hardship of pandemic, let us work hand in hand to save Indonesian forest and protect the indigenous peoples. For the green of Indonesian forests as the Equatorial Emerald country and for the breath of human life, it is time for us to be civilized as #beradatjagahutan. Without forests, no life could ever exist. It is similar to what West Papua Governor Dominggus Mandacan said on his remark amidst the concert, “We protect forest. Forest protects us. We protect NKRI (the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia). NKRI protects us.”
Editor: Leo Wahyudi