Villagers of Sira, Papua, Indonesia

West Papua villagers, Indonesia

The clearing of Indonesia’s rainforests and peatlands, primarily for the production of palm oil and pulp and paper, accounts for more than 85% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. This has placed Indonesia as the world’s third-largest producer of greenhouse gases behind China and the US. Pulp and palm oil expansion into forests has pushed orangutans, the Sumatran tiger, and other species towards extinction. It has caused social conflict between those who want to clear the forests and local communities wishing to protect them and their livelihoods, and it is bringing wildlife and humans into close contact resulting in conflict. If current deforestation trends continue, the orangutan and Sumatran tiger will soon be gone, replaced by the palm oil in your chocolate chip cookie, or the packaging you throw away. © text/Greenpeace

In Papua, one of Indonesia’s last remaining areas of intact virgin forest I photographed the forest communities which have formal rights to manage their own forest land and protect it from the encroaching palm oil companies. This permit when approved will be a landmark milestone for forest conservation in Papua and can be replicated in other communities. 80% of the population of Papua live in forests.

The villagers of Sira Village at Sembra River Sira South Sorong, Papua, Indonesia pose for me. Most at ease when they hold on to something, a tree, their padang, a branch each other I saw they gravitated to this particular tree and its roots. They walked effortlessly and quietly through their forests. I sounded like an elephant trailing them in my hiking boots.

West Papua villagers, Indonesia
West Papua villagers, Indonesia
West Papua villagers, Indonesia
West Papua villagers, Indonesia
West Papua villagers, Indonesia
West Papua villagers, Indonesia
West Papua villagers, Indonesia
West Papua villagers, Indonesia

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West Papua villagers, Indonesia
West Papua villagers, Indonesia
West Papua villagers, Indonesia
West Papua villagers, Indonesia
West Papua villagers, Indonesia
West Papua villagers, Indonesia
West Papua villagers, Indonesia
West Papua villagers, Indonesia
West Papua villagers, Indonesia
West Papua villagers, Indonesia