EIA at 40 – violence and kidnapping don’t stop us from protecting the forests of Indonesia

In the countdown to EIA’s 40th anniversary later this year, we are sharing previous editions of our newsletter, highlighting our work to expose environmental crime and abuse. 

Today, we share an edition from 2001 detailing our efforts to protect Indonesia’s forests.

With our partner Telapak (now Kaoem Telapak), we spearheaded a bold campaign to save the Tanjung Puting National Park, one of the world’s last strongholds of the endangered orangutan.

Illegal logging in the park was contributing to the destruction of about two million hectares of forest each year, driving local communities from their land and forcing orangutans from their dense forest habitat.

In our fight to protect the forest, our investigators suffered the violence of kidnapping, physical assault and personal threats yet, despite this, in August of 2001 we ventured into the forest again to meet the loggers. Braving mosquitos, leeches and rivers that could only be crossed by balancing on fallen logs, our team walked across the park, on the lookout for birds and other wildlife.

This work resulted in a detailed view of logging in Tanjung Puting and we were able to document key information, including the names of the logging bosses and their financiers, and share it with the Ministry of Forests.

We also tracked and documented illegally sourced Indonesian timber and were able to link the logging to consumer markets in Europe, the USA, Japan and China.

In September 2001, we presented our findings to delegates at an important East Asia Ministerial conference, at which Government representatives from all over the region and some significant consuming countries negotiated declarations.

The result was the strongest agreement on forest law enforcement in 10 years of forest negotiations.

Read the full newsletter