Forests & forest fires

Down to Earth No. 64, March 2005

The following account was compiled By DTE staff in early February.

Around week 2 post-quake, there were serious concerns about the plight of hundreds of thousands people made homeless by the tsunami-quake disaster. These IDPs (internally displaced persons) were living under tarpaulins or in tents in overcrowded conditions, made worse by heavy rains. Fears of epidemics of typhoid, cholera and other diseases drove the authorities to take emergency measures to establish 'temporary accommodation'.

Down to Earth No 64  March 2005

Coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangroves and peatlands, if maintained in a healthy state, reduce the severity of tsunami impacts. Several reports have highlighted the fact that mangroves and coral reefs, where they still remained, helped save lives on December 26th by acting as a buffer and absorbing the impact of the giant waves. Where they were absent, more lives were lost.

Down to Earth No 64  2005

The well-known indigenous and environmental activist, Keuchik Jailani, was one of the victims of the quake-tsunami in Aceh. He did not come from a privileged background and had little formal education. He always described himself as an ordinary farmer. But Pak Keuchik - as he was always known - was not an ordinary man. He was a community leader who was chosen to be village head of Riseh Sawang and customary leader because he was an honest, hard-working, principled man who was a skilled negotiator and not afraid to speak out.

Down to Earth No 63  November 2004


Bestari Raden, indigenous activist and environmental campaigner, has been sentenced to two years and six months imprisonment. The verdict, handed down in October, found Bestari not guilty of part of the main charge of 'rebellion', but guilty of threatening state security and incitement.

Bestari Raden was arrested by military personnel from Southeast Aceh district command in March 2004.

Down to Earth No 62  August 2004

NGOs have stepped up their campaign to halt construction of the Ladia Galaska road project which cuts through the Leuser Ecosystem in Aceh - one of world's richest areas of tropical rainforest.

Floods hit four districts in Aceh on May 7-8, in the western area downstream of the Ladia Galaska road project, leaving one person dead, sweeping away four houses and forcing thousands to leave their flooded homes.

Down to Earth No 62  August 2004

The burning season started early in Sumatra this year, but Jakarta has been too preoccupied with the elections to take action on forest fires.

Thick smoke blanketed parts of Sumatra and Kalimantan for several days during June and July, resulting in the now familiar symptoms of delayed flights and the authorities handing out face masks.

Down to Earth No 61 May 2004

A recent visit by DTE staff to South Sumatra illustrates the realities of Indonesia's deforestation and the tensions between local communities and the authorities over the use of 'forest lands' in a rapidly changing environment

"Why are you going to South Sumatra to find out about sustainable forest use? There is no forest there!", said people in Jakarta. Even in the provincial capital, Palembang, staff at the South Sumatra branch of the environmental NGO WALHI were gloomy.