Over the past couple of years there has been increasing debate in the West on the role of “China in Africa”. There are even several books out on the subject. I haven’t heard too much from Africans themselves, except for the odd comment by the man on the street that Chinese goods are swamping their markets, something not considered a good thing. So when I saw this headline in the East Africa Times last month, it made me laugh…
I’ve tended to shy away from reproducing other people’s work on my blog. After all, it’s a bit lazy, isn’t it? But today I’m making an exception. Conservation is often accused of being too negative, always looking for the worst in everything. Although this isn’t strictly true, the people working behind the scenes often remain up-beat, plugging away in even the darkest hours. Perhaps it is because of this that I found this article so moving. Taken from the Rainforest Portal:
A month ago I made the audacious statement that the rainforest movement had achieved a victory in protecting Indonesia’s rainforests and orangutans from a huge oil palm plantation. I made this statement fully aware that Indonesia’s rainforests were in frenzied crisis and hoping that supporting those in government working to conserve rainforests from such atrocities could make a positive difference. This hope has proven fleeting.
I now realise I was wrong, am retracting the victory claim, and have realised there is little or no hope for Indonesia’s large and intact ancient rainforests. I apologise for my error.
The latest news is that a Chinese company intends to set-up a massive timber plant in Indonesian Papua to process rare rainforest timbers for Olympic construction. This will set the stage for the final destruction of these relatively intact rainforests. The second story details the ongoing power struggle between various Indonesian factions for and against the massive oil palm project. These actions – which are so grossly unjust and unsustainable, and our inability to stop them – show just how impotent the rainforest movement has become.
Together with the nearly four million hectares of deforestation already occurring annually in Indonesia’s rainforests, the new forces of rainforest destruction arrayed against Indonesia’s rainforest ecosystems are simply too great. Nothing can stand against a billion Chinese consumers all aspiring to the wasteful and deadly living standards of Americans and Europeans.
Ecological Internet will continue our campaign to support those in the Indonesian government that oppose these projects. But frankly, there is little hope that anything but the smallest little fragmented bits of Indonesia’s rainforests will ever be protected, and perhaps I was crazy for saying there was. Let’s keep on trying nonetheless…
Dr. Glen Barry