30% of Papua's forests destroyed; 3,100 kms of road to be built across Papua

Bintang Papua
6 August 2010

Jayapura: Already 30 percent of Papuan forests have been destroyed according to Benja Viktor Mambai, director of WWF Sahul Jayapura, speaking at a seminar in Jayapura. This means that close attention needs to be paid to the impact of future development projects.

‘While this means that 70 percent of Papuan forests are still preserved, this can be seriously affected if care is not taken,’ he said. He also spoke about the incomparable richness of Papua’s forests, its rich flora and fauna , the importance of the environment within the forests as well as their social and cultural aspects.

He said that research was going on to discover yet more unknown species in Papua.

‘Given the richness of its natural resources, we need not be afraid of development but the most important thing is to ensure that development takes account of these social and cultural factors as well as sustainability.’

He said that sustainability of the forests must keep in mind the sustainability of the social and cultural factors.

[Comment: These words were spoken on the eve of the launch of the MIFEE project which will profoundly affect the sustainability of the way of life of Papua’s indigenous inhabitants, as pointed out in a press release issued today by TAPOL and Down to Earth.]

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Bintang Papua, 8 August 2010

Plan to build 3,100 kms of road
Jakarta: The public works department of the Indonesian Republic is planning to build 3,100 kms of road across the province of Papua,according to Diaz Gwijangge, member of Commission X of the Indonesia parliament.

‘Many parts of the province are very isolated,’ he said, ‘added to which is the fact that because of the topography, many places are inaccessible either by air, sea or land.’

He said that if the government in Jakarta is serious about developing Papua to the level achieved in other parts of the country, building roads is part of the solution.

He told Bintang Papua that the main focus of the road building programme will be on ‘strategic’ roads.

He went on to say that besides the lack of infrastructure, Papua was also very much behind other parts of the country in the availability of education and health facilities and in empowering the local communities. All these are matters to which the central government should pay proper attention, he said.

He went on to say that Papua has enormously rich natural resources which make a huge contribution to the Indonesian state. ‘Yet, unfortunately, the people of Papua living in poverty and physical isolation. These are serious matters that must be attended to by Jakarta.’

Minister of Public Works Djoko Kirmanto explained that what meant by ‘strategic roads’. was roads that link the main centres of economic activity. ‘The products of the province can be exported through the ports of Merauke or Jayapura.

[Comment: It would be interesting to know the extent to which the Indonesian state depends on the revenue and dividends received from the Freeport mining of Papua’s copper and gold while cmmunities in the vicinity of the mine were forced to leave their land to make way for the company’s operations, with little to show for it in terms of their standard of living. TAPOL]

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