Heroes of Biodiversity from West Papua

Alex when he received the award in Manila


Alex Waisimon, again received an award. This time, ASEAN Heroes of Biodiversity Heroes or The ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes from the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity (ACB). Before this, Alex received the 2017 Kalpataru award and Kick Andy Heroes 2017.

This Biodiversity Heroes Degree is given to figures from ASEAN countries who have contributed to the conservation and advocacy of biodiversity in their respective countries. There were 10 people who got this title, one of Alex was presented at the Biodiversity Heroes Regional Forum in Manila, Philippines last September 4.

Alex acts a lot in protecting the forest, preserving the bird of paradise and other animals while at the same time contributing to improving the community’s economy through Bird Watching ecotourism.

Alex made this movement in his hometown of Rhepang Muaif Unurum Guay, Nimbokrang District, Jayapura Regency, Papua.

Besides Alex, the other 2017 ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes, Eyad Samhan (Brunei Darussalam), Sophea Chinn (Cambodia), Nitsavanh Louangkhot Pravongviengkham (Laos), Prof. Zakri Abdul Hamid (Malaysia). Also Dr. Maung Maung Kyi (Myanmar), Dr. Angel C. Alcala (Philippines), Prof. Leo Tan Wee Hin (Singapore), Dr. Nonn Panitvong (Thailand) and Prof. Dr. Dang Huy Huynh (Vietnam).

In this event, Alex shared conservation stories with students from various academic institutions in the Philippines, young professionals, media, and participants from ASEAN member countries.

Work experience in Red Cross Asia Pacific, International Labor Organization, chefs at Italian Restaurants in Hamburg, to tour guides in Bali, became provisions when deciding to return to Papua in 2014.

His dream is to provide a livelihood for the community through ecotourism.

“The key to ecotourism benefits from forests without damaging and ensuring that future generations will enjoy the opportunity to see forests and biodiversity.”

His efforts, he said, initially there was a rejection from the community. Alex remained persistent. The forest is damaged by logging, he takes care. As a result, birds and other animals return to fill the forest.

In August 2016, there were nine tribal heads handed over 19,000 hectares of forest as a sustainable ecotourism area. The area increased to 98,000 hectares.

“Nine chieftains were put together. I approach them with philosophy; can’t give up, take another leave the other, for posterity. ”

The Muaif Japanese Region, where Alex lives is a forest area of ​​84 bird species from 31 families. The area even enters important bird regions because it provides protection for five endangered species including Casuarius unappendiculatus, Harpyopsis novaeguineae, Goura victoria, Psittaculirostris salvadorii, and Epimachus bruijnii.

This place, he said, is also popular as a bird of paradise house. Six species of bird of paradise from the family Paradisaeidae can be found in this area.

So an example

Dominggus Mampioper, a visitor of Bird Watshing Rhepang Muaif ecotourism, was proud of the award to Alex Wasimon.

He said, Alex gave hope that a damaged forest could return to a safe home for animals.

“It gives hope to us and to everyone it turns out even though the forest has been ransacked but there is still hope for the gift of returning home,” he said.

Rhepang Muaif, he said, is no longer a dense forest, there are no more trees with a diameter of 50 cm the impact of logging, but the animals start living freely there.

“People say love appears at 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Here at 1:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. we can see the balsawasih flying. ”

He said, another interesting thing from Alex, knowledge about nature. Although around the world and long ago left his hometown, Alex was fluent in local languages, knowing the names of birds and trees in the local language. In fact, he knows the type of bird from sound, and the tree that is his home, to the knowledge of the seasons. mMsim matoa, for example, the tone of the parrot and the old kaka eat fruit on the tree, underneath is cassowary and wild boar.

“Mr. Alex got those knowledge first from his parents and he did not forget. He continued by transferring knowledge through the environmental school he made at that location now, “he said.

Alex also received support from indigenous people.

According to Mampioper, the challenge now is the government’s intention to change the status of the land from forests that can be converted into conservation forests.

Threatened by illegal logging and oil palm plantations

In 2018, Sawit Watch gave a critical note on the condition of Papua’s forests. According to them, tropical forests in Papua continue to shrink along with the degradation process and the rate of forest destruction.

In 2005-2009, Papua’s forest area ranged from 42.22 million hectares. Intermittent three years later (2011), experienced degradation and the remaining 30.07 million hectares. The average deforestation in Papua is around 143,680 hectares per year.

Quoted from Sawit Watch, data from the Papua Government stated that Papua’s palm oil plantation area is 958,094.2 hectares. He is controlled by 79 oil palm plantation companies in various regions such as Merauke, Boven Digoel, Keerom, Sarmi, Waropen, Yahukimo, Nabire, Mimika Mappi, and Jayapura. This area is expected to increase given the land in Sumatra and Kalimantan, already exhausted.

In Jayapura Regency, where Alex Waisimon is located, there are two palm oil companies operating. Quoted from the Palm Sawit Papua, the two companies are PT Sinar Kencana Inti Perkasa (20,535 hectares), a subsidiary of Sinar Mas and PT Rimba Matoa Lestari (29,589 hectares), a subsidiary of Agrindo Group – part of Raja Garuda Mas Group.

Two other companies that already hold permits and will enter in the Kaureh District are PT Siringo-Ringo (29,278 hectares) and PT Megasurya Mas (13,389 hectares). Both are subsidiaries of Musim Mas.

There are three companies seeking licensing. Two Musim Mas subsidiaries, namely PT Intibenua Perkasatama (25,773 hectares) and PT Wira Antara (31,561 hectares). Another one, PT Permata Nusa Mandiri (32,000 hectares).

For illegal logging, in December 2017, the Anti-Mafia Forest Coalition reported seven timber certificate holders, a timber legality verification system (SVLK). These seven companies operate from Jayapura and Sarmi Regencies.

These companies carry unclear wood origin but it seems legal. The Corruption Eradication Commission at a meeting at the Office of the Governor of Jayapura on 6 September 2018 also announced the involvement of the police and military in these cases and warned that immediate disciplinary action would be imposed on those involved.

Oil palm plantations and logging, all use excuses for the welfare of indigenous Papuans. For oil palm, for example, people are expected to prosper by managing oil palm plantations through plasma programs or becoming company workers. In fact, the way of working like that does not fit the way of life of the local community.

For wood, because community knowledge is limited, companies buy wood at low prices.

Alex, one of the people who rejects the expression Papua Papuans are not prosperous.

When he was present as a speaker at the Papua Film Festival on August 9, 18 in Jayapura, Alex challenged the audience.

“I want to ask the Papuans and answer honestly in your heart. Who said he was poor in Papua? Isn’t this country rich? Why are we still poor? Beautiful land holds a lot of wealth. Are we not rich? ”

Alex mentioned examples in Keerom and Merauke, which had been destroyed by oil palm plantations. In addition to damaged forests, people also lose their livelihoods.

“I told my family, one gift you shot for Rp. 500,000, but if you take care of you protect this nature, you will eat and your grandchildren will continue to eat. If you destroy it, your treasure will disappear. Forever. “

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