Fighting the Threat of Palm Oil Companies in the Mentawais

Like so many others, Australian surfer/film-maker Matt Hannon was drawn to the Mentawais by the lure of perfect waves but came away with so much more. Immersing himself in the local culture, environment and daily community life in the rainforests of Siberut Island, the 22-year-old UK-born surfer soon became aware of the growing pressure local indigenous communities have indirectly come under from the worldwide demand for palm oil.

The practice of clear-felling of old growth tropical rainforests to produce palm oil is a severe problem throughout Indonesia, which the rest of the world has mainly been made aware via the slaughter of now endangered Orang Utang and other primate populations. But as is made clear by this digital short, wildlife isn’t the only thing under threat. Local indigenous livelihoods depend upon the tropical rainforests, while the felling of worldwide old growth forests and subsequent soil erosion is now clearly known to be the primary cause of human-induced climate change.

Despite all these detrimental effects, at the time of writing our’Save the planet in 7 simple semi-surf-related steps‘ feature, the Indonesian government has set aside a whopping 18 million hectares of rainforest to palm oil production by 2020. In other words, if you keep buying it there’s really no reason they should stop producing and selling it.


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