Physical development versus ecological disaster is a matter of trade and it should be managed in a very-very careful way. Which one do we prefer? If we choose to develop a highway we must realise that a warning from Greenpeace and some Papuan NGOs about explosion in palm oil plantations, illegal loggers and biodiversity loss should be taken seriously. If we choose to let Papua as a jungle without any significant physical development, then we should also creatively think about any possible way to develop Papua without destroying its environment.
Precise calculation on what we will loss and what we will get is very important. By developing a highway from Papua Province to West Papua Province, economic development will increase sharply. But the question is who will get the largest part of economic pie? Are we Papuan ready for the economic booming of palm oil plantation, land transportation, housing, services, etc? I believe that most of the economic pie will be eaten by capitalist or investor from Jakarta, China or maybe Malaysia. While Papuan will become a low level labor in Palm oil plantation.
I absolutely agree with the Greenpeace and other Papuan NGOs, that the highway plan has a negative effect for the environment. However, we should also think about the welfare of Papuan, so lets think hard and creative to find a way for the future of Papua. A holistic approach of sustainable development, education, law enforcement, anti corruption, etc should be placed as a foundation of every policy. So please listen to the people voice, listen to the environmentalist, listen to cry out for economic justice in Papua.
News from AFP
JAKARTA (AFP) – An Indonesian plan to build a highway through the forests of Papua risks opening the door to massive deforestation in the jungle-clad half-island, environment groups said Wednesday.
The 4,500 kilometre (2,796 mile) Trans-Papua highway between the provinces of Papua and West Papua would lead to an explosion in palm oil plantations and allow easy access for illegal loggers, Greenpeace and Papuan NGOs said in a statement.
The planned road “would not only result in irreversible biodiversity loss and consequent ecological disaster, it will have a devastating impact on the lives and livelihood of the Papuan people,” Greenpeace campaigner Bustar Maitar said.
The NGOs urged the government to properly consult local Papuans before going ahead with highway, which is the cornerstone of a 2007 plan by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to develop the resource-rich but impoverished provinces.
The plan comes as Indonesian officials eye Papua’s vast wilderness as a potential site for more palm oil plantations to cash in on voracious global demand for the crop.
Palm oil plantations could be created on between three and four million hectares (up to 9.8 million acres) of suitable land in the two provinces, an agriculture ministry official told AFP in May.
Indonesia, the world’s largest palm oil producer, also has one of the highest levels of deforestation, with weak law enforcement and widespread corruption allowing illegal landclearing and logging to flourish.