There is no denying Indonesia is an incredibly beautiful, and diverse country. But like so many other resource rich nations it is under serious threat from over exploitation. Pete (a fellow VSO volunteer) recently brought to my attention the case of Kutai National Park in East Kalimantan.
Kutai is home the largest remaining population (approx, 4, 825) moreo organgutans in Indonesia, along with 10 other primates as well as other critically endangered mammals and bird species. However, underneath Kutai is about 38 mega tonnes of coal, which a British conglomerate called Churchill Mining claim to have rights to. Their license was acquired from ex-president Suharto's son-in-law, General Subianto. Subianto's is famed fro ordering the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre where over 250 East Timorese civilians and foreign journalists were machine gunned to death. The massacre caused international attention and partly led to the fall of Suharto's 'New Order' regime.
Moreo Orangutans that call Kutai National Park home
With Suharto out, the new elected government created a decentralized Indonesia where resources were managed locally resulting in Subianto's/Churchill's license being invalid. However, recently Churchill and their investors (Goldman Sachs, Blackrock, Barclays Bank) are taking the claim to a tribunal in Jakarta.
Churchill Mining has enough money in the bank to litigate for years. They don't care that mining in a protected park is illegal. There are loads of these dubious license and a victory for Churchill will open the flood gates to massive forest clearances across Indonesia and other countries with economically weak governments that can't afford the years of litigation that these multinational mining consortia can.
I'm encouraging everyone I know to sign this petition to show your support for the continued protection of Kutai National Park and the many rare species that call it home.
I hope in the next two years to visit East Kalimatan and Kutai National Park but there won't be much to see if companies like Churchill Mining are allowed to continue to exploit it.