Chew Valley Gazette Dec 2015 Article – Indonesian Fires

AFON Conference Sept 2014, my vision for the future is
“that all the palm oil plantations turn back into forest”
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig
I write a column called “Birding Tales” in my local monthly newspaper, the Chew Valley Gazette. Although it is only a local paper, it is read by lots of people who work for the BBC Natural History Department and the media, as lots of these people live in the Chew Valley just south of Bristol.

Palm oil plantations, Borneo
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

This month, my December 2015 column is about the important issue of the fires raging in Indonesia. These are crippling the environment and are being ignored by our media. The article is on Page 43, and is from the link below:

“As I go birding around the
beautiful Chew Valley Lake,
it’s easy to erase from my mind the crime against nature and our planet taking
place on the other side of the world.

As the media ignores this massive
eco-catastrophe, I can not do so. A huge
area of Indonesia
is on fire, along the 5000 km length of this beautiful country. A fire so dense that in some cities visibility
is down to 30 metres, smothered by smoke, children are choking. Others will die an early death from the
respiratory illnesses that they are developing now. 20 people are dead, 500,000 are suffering
from respiratory illnesses and 45 million people are impacted. At the same time, some of the world’s rarest
animals are being driven from their homes, with 1/3 of Orangutans in danger and
20,000 dead. The CO2 emission from the
fire is more than for the whole of the USA
and so far, an area the size of Belgium
is ash. Under the trees, the peat which
is up to 12 metres deep burns on for many months, releasing toxic gases.

Who or what could have
started this terrible disaster? Look no
further than Nestle, Pepsi and Starbucks.
All of these companies use palm oil in their products which is from
plantations on illegally deforested land.
Palm oil is now in 50% of all our products. Every year plantations supplying these
companies and immoral companies like them set fire to rainforests and peat
forests, to clear them for palm oil plantations. This year, the thousands of deliberate fires
have burnt out of control due to trying weather.

In 2014, when I visited
In Borneo and Malaysia I was shocked by the extent of land deforested for palm oil
plantations, which support virtually no
wildlife. At times we drove for hours, with nothing but palm oil
plantations as far as we could see. In the Kinabatangan River area,
there were amazing forests full of wildlife on one side of the river and palm
oil on the other side, with nothing. I realized that it was a disaster
happening around us right now. It’s like 500 years of woodland loss here
happening in 20 years there. The deforestation associated with palm oil is vast, particularly in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Malaysia which produce 87% of the world’s supply. The palm oil industry has been expanding ferociously,
accounting for 50 billion tons a year with huge areas of rainforest have been
destroyed in Malaysia and Indonesia.
What can you do to help? Sign a petition; write to these companies and others like them, telling them that their conduct is unacceptable; write to the papers and ask them why they are not reporting on this catastrophe; try to stick to products with ethical, sustainable options with the Rainforest Alliance’s Certification.”

I have previously written a blog about the impact of palm oil plantations

7 Days not very Wild – Day 6 – 6 July 2015

Palm oil plantations, Borneo
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

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