Tropical forest in West Papua is the natural habitat of thousands of species of plants and animals. They have become important natural resource for indigenous people who have lived in the region for generations. They obtain food, medicines, and materials for the construction of their houses, hunting equipment and tools from the forest.
|Birdwatching in the forest of West Papua|
Unfortunately, the rainforest in West Papua in now being cut by big companies to take its timber, and clear the land for palm oil plantation. Rural areas around big towns and cities of West Papua are being expanded for massive monoculture plantations, and human settlements. There are areas in the forest where trees are cut for road constructions and mining concession.
|Australian Tourists were walking along a ridge to see the beauty of West Papua's forest|
Preservation of rainforest in West Papua is now an urgent matter if we still want to see this precious environment in next decades. One of the ways to preserve the forest is by empowering the indigenous people to be united, and smart in economically and sustainably exploiting their natural resource from the forest for their prosperity.
Villagers already have got local wisdom on how to collect honey, catch fish, do hunting and make medicine. However, they need to learn how to make essential oils from various kinds of flowers in the forest or how to run a guesthouse for tourists who want to enjoy a 3-day walking tour in the forest to watch birds and other wild animals.
In other words, the empowerment of the indigenous people is a must to enable them to have economical capacity and will to protect their forest.
West Papua is a very rich land. The mountains and hills have got huge deposits minerals including of copper, nickel, gold, zinc, uranium, and etc. There are coal, gas, and oil too. However the indigenous people are lack of know how to sustainably exploit them.
Environmentally friendly agriculture, alternative tourism, and education will enable local people to develop their land well.
to be continued ...
by Charles Roring
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