Investigation suggests wildfires have been deliberately set in Asia – BBC News

Petrus Kinggo walks through the thick lowland rainforest in the Boven Digoel Regency.

“This is our mini market,” he sys, smiling. “But unlike in the city, here food and medicine are free.”

Mr Kinggo is an elder in the Mandobo tribe. His ancestors have lived off these forests in Papua, Indonesia for centuries. Along with fishing and hunting, the sago starch extracted from palms growing wild here provided the community with their staple food. Their home is among the most biodiverse places on earth, and the rainforest is sacred and essential to the indigenous tribes.

Six years ago, Mr Kinggo was approached by South Korean palm oil giant Korindo, which asked him to help persuade his tribe and 10 other clans to accept just 100,000 rupiah ($8; £6) per hectare in compensation for their land. The company arrived with permits from the government and wanted a “quick transaction” with indigenous landholders, according to Mr Kinggo. And the promise of development was coupled with subtle intimidation, he said.

“The military and police came to my house, saying I had to meet with the company. They said they didn’t know what would happen to me if I didn’t.”

When he did, they made him personal promises as well, he said. As a co-ordinator, he would receive a new house with clean water and a generator, and have his children’s school fees paid.

His decision would change his community forever.

Source: The burning scar: Inside the destruction of Asia’s last rainforests – BBC News