I first visited the rainforests of Indonesia in the early 1990s. The virgin forest’s dark walls of buttressed tree trunks laced with rattans and vines rose more than fifty metres up to crowns in full sunlight where monkeys squabbled in the Meranti’s red-tipped canopies; it was the best Meranti in Indonesia, the World, and the Universe. It was 2007 when I again asked about that magnificent Meranti forest. The answer was shocking – habis – finished!
I felt a profound sense of loss.
The area had not been completely deforested – the forest cover had not been permanently lost – but roads and tracks had been cut through the forest to selectively harvest the Meranti. These roads allow illegal loggers to cut and run with the very trees that are left to regenerate the forest, and pressures from an expanding population will push people to follow the roads and to burn and clear the now degraded forest to grow food to feed their families. This is a problem not just for Indonesia but for all forest areas of the developing world.
Illegal logging and deforestation is about humanity and existence. And I realised that any solution must address these demands. The solution must stimulate sustainable forest management and sustainable communities and touch individual lives. To do this successfully the solution must be implemented by the foresters who are trained to manage the forests and the landscape, and finance for the solution must address the opportunity cost of timber – the currency of the timber industry. And most important of all, the solution must result in increased levels of employment in local communities and businesses. People must be paid to protect the forest from illegal logging, to rehabilitate logged-over areas, and create a sustainable timber supply for a sustainable economy. The lives of the people who use the forest must be improved by the continued existence of the forest.
This was the birth of KeeptheHabitat.
The world needs forests – the forests of Indonesia have never been as important as they are now for helping mankind. But right now the forests need the world – they need help from us, the people of the planet.
Locally, we can protect and rehabilitate habitats like the best Meranti in the Universe, but we can also have an impact globally because preventing all tropical deforestation will have the same effect on global carbon emissions as all the reductions of the Kyoto Protocol.
It’s about forests, people and carbon – it’s really worth doing.
Nigel D Turvey
Founder and Executive Chairman