Jayapura – Almost 226,000 hectares of forest in Papua will be cleared and converted into plantations, an environmental group said.
Some private companies are awaiting approval from the Papua provincial government to open palm oil, Industrial Plantation Forest (HTI) and other agricultural plantations, a researcher from the Papua Environmental Foundation, Nafli Lessil told tabloidjubi.com on Thursday (1/5).
He said the Environmental Management Agency of Papua province had requested feedback from the public regarding plans to open palm oil and cassava plantations in several areas in Papua.
"The size of forests that will be converted are likely to grow. Currently, seven companies are known to have plans to convert approximately 226,000 hectares of forest," Lessil said.
The seven companies are PT. Berkat Cipta Abadi, PT. Visi Hajau Nusantara, PT. Wahana Agri Karya, PT. Duta Visi Global, PT. China Gate Agriculture, PT.Wanamulia Sukses Sejati Unit III, and PT. Sariwana Adi Perkasa.
"About 3 percent or 80.299 hectares of forest areas in Boven Digoel regency will be deliberately exploited by four palm oil companies, PT. Berkat Cipta Abadi, PT. Visi Hijau Nusantara, PT. Wahana Agri Karya and PT. Duta Visi Global.
"In addition, approximately 116,695 hectares of land in Merauke regency will be turned into plantations, 20,000 hectares of which is intended for cassava cultivation. While 8,950 hectares of land in Nabire will be for oil palm plantations," he said.
This condition is very worrying as it not only could it damage the forest ecosystems, flora and fauna but also threaten the existence of communities, he said.
"Yes, there is a positive impact, but in my opinion, the negative impact is huge. So the Government of Papua Province and regencies should be careful and wiser. It is better to reflect and learn from the cases that occurred in Sumatra, before it 's too late, " he appealed.
Previously, Greenpeace campaigner for Papua, Charles Tawaru said, in between 2005-2009, forest area of Papua was 42 million hectares, but in 2011 only 30.07 million hectares was left.
Every year the average deforestation rate in Papua province is 143,680 ha and 293,000 ha in West Papua. The expansion of industries such as logging, plantations and mining are the main causes, in addition to regional administration expansion.
The exploitation of Papua's natural resources has become increasingly out of control because of difficult access to information and lack of government transparency. (Jubi/Albert/Tina)