The Palm Scribe

Balancing Business and Environmental Conservation in West Papua

Forest conservation has been the focus of the world recently, following numerous allegations that deforestation occurs rapidly in Indonesia due to economic pressures. PT Austindo Nusantara Jaya (ANJ) plantation company conservation executive Ikhlas Al Zaki, however, said that both conservation and business have mutual benefit.

forest conservation area in West Papua

“The fact is that conservation will not “survive” without business and business will not sustain without conservation,” ANJ’s eastern region conservation manager Al Zaki told The Palm Scribe.

Zaki is actively building a conservation area in West Papua. His experience since 1984 has helped him understand the dynamics of many environments. Zaki admits that Papua region has its own challenges that are totally different from other parts of Indonesia.

“We are talking about a very big challenge in Papua. This is a part of Indonesia where most areas are still isolated. The infrastructure development is still far behind compared to other regions, and there is a lot of biodiversities–so huge that scientists might not recognize some species,” he said, adding that Papua is the last bastion of tropical forests in Indonesia.

Indigenous Papuans, according to Zaki, also need assistance related to environmental issues. Many of them do not know the Government’s regulations regarding this.

“There are also classic challenges here. Some of the protected animals, such as crocodiles and exotic birds, are being hunted for their meat,” he said. Zaki emphasized that the company is also responsible for educating and finding alternatives sources of protein for consumption.

According to Zaki, the private companies in West Papua are very helpful to the government’s unfinished tasks, not only in educating the local community but also in raising awareness about the environmental conservation.

Zaki also said that when companies invest in remote areas, they open opportunities for scientists to explore more deeply about the existing flora and fauna.

PT Putra Manunggal Perkasa (PMP) Conservation Assistant Muharmansyah said that a company’s investment in West Papua generates many positive impacts for the local people.

“The company establishment here has raised local people’s awareness to the environment. They once did not know which animals were protected and did not even know the function of the river,” he told The Palm Scribe in Sumano Village, West Papua.

The fauna in West Papua has its own uniqueness for most of its characteristics have similarities to Australian fauna such as kangaroo, cuscus, cassowary, Bird of Mambruk (Victoria crowned pigeon), and others.

In this area, no animals have been included in the endangered species category according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Nevertheless, some of the animals, including Bird of Mambruk, have been listed as vulnerable.

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