Indonesia to deport Ford?

By Colin Ricketts - 12 Sep 2013 7:51:36 GMT
Indonesia to deport Ford?

This Sumatran tiger cub, Panthera tigris sumatrae feels at ease, but almost all of this critically-endangered sub-species have been exterminated in the tiny natural habitat that remains, tucked between oil-palm plantations; Sumatram tiger cub image; Credit: © Shutterstock

The illegal logging of Indonesia's forests has to stop. There are far too many of the world's rare and not-so-rare species in Tesso Nilo National Park to risk any further dislodging of orang-utans or removal of orchid species. In remote islands, if anything, the situation is worse than in the heavily populated main islands, where human expansion puts paid to elephant or rhino habitat.

Harrison Ford is making a TV program. He has, in the process, upset the government of Indonesia. No bad thing, but there is always the likelihood that a Minister may know more than a "personality." This means that actors not only have to be heard on environmental topics, but also by the people (in this case, Forestry Ministers) who are charged with delivering ecological justice for the habitats around the world.

It seems a little unfair, given that some politicians are actually charged with full responsibility for green issues. Others willfully deny the natural rights of people and the limited areas that have to be kept available for plants and animals to live in. But it is clear that in this world, it will be the campaigners for environment who will get the votes and this famous actor may not be treading or thinking carefully enough.

Palm oil plantations occupy 11 million hectares in the island of Sumatra. Fires designed to destroy the native forest have been bothering Singaporeans and Malaysians for years. Recently, lawsuits from their own Sumatran farmers in five villages in Riau province are hitting the Indonesian government hard. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has been forced to apologise with, "We're trying to crack down on improprieties [like illegal logging] and we will be strict about it."

As well as this very big problem, paper production, mining and agricultural industries are springing up in the islands, with multinational companies finding it easy to move in. Just how strict is the President's and Harrison Ford's problem. Unless he has the backing of local environmental organisations, it is simply untenable to attack a foreign government minister unless you have every single fact straight.