Petition delivered – will Kinipan forest on Borneo be saved?

Effendi Buhing from Kinipan and Safrudin Mahendra of Save Our Borneo Effendi Buhing is determined to save the Kinipan forest with the help of our petition (© Save Our Borneo)

Dec 2, 2020

Our partner organization Save our Borneo has delivered our petition to Effendi Buhing, the leader of the indigenous Dayak Tomun people of Kinipan, who will personally present it to Indonesian policymakers and business representatives.

Only a generation ago, Borneo was a world full of secrets. Best known as the habitat of the iconic orangutan, the island is home to countless other plant and animal species, many of which have not yet been documented by science. Deep in the oldest rainforests on the planet, longhouses could be found, inhabited by a people commonly known as Dayak.

Little of that remains. After a fifteen-year biofuel boom, oil palm plantations are spreading where there was rainforest until recently. Mountainous regions are among the last to still have an intact forest cover – for example in Kinipan, where villagers are resisting the destruction of their forest for an oil palm plantation. They are being backed by our local partner NGO Save Our Borneo and our petition, “Please help us save Kinipan forest!

The battle for the Kinipan forest starkly illustrates the brutality with which oil palm plantations are spreading and the ruthlessness of the palm oil industry toward humans and nature. In Indonesia, Kinipan has become a prime example that many eyes are currently on: Will the indigenous people succeed in saving their forest?

Save Our Borneo: “With this petition, we also want to remind Europe of its own responsibility. Europe should be aware of the consequences of consuming palm oil. The palm oil industry, in this case the company SML, is destroying the forest in blatant contradiction to the principle of sustainability and the “no-deforestation” pledge. It is also ignoring indigenous peoples’ human right to free, prior and informed consent.”

Nearly 250,000 people signed the petition, giving the negotiating position of the indigenous people a major boost. Save our Borneo delivered it to Effendi Buhing, the leader of the indigenous Dayak Tomun of Kinipan, to support his campaign. Effendi Buhing was recently arrested in a dramatic incident, but has since been released. 

Effendi Buhing and the residents of Kinipan intend to personally present the petition to the Indonesian president, the forest minister, the human rights commission and other political and business leaders.

“This petition is proof of the broad support for our demands: SML must immediately stop clearing the Kinipan forest, and the government must finally recognize indigenous peoples’ land rights.”