PROFAUNA Deplores Mining in Wehea Forest, East Borneo

Activists of Protection of Forest & Fauna (PROFAUNA) staged a demonstration in front of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry's office in Jakarta, by chaining their bodies to the gate, on Thusrday (16/4/2015). The stout act of the environmental activists is held as a protest against the threats posed on the Wehea forest in Kutai Timur regency, East Borneo, by mining and palm oil plantation.

PROFAUNA, who since 2014 has been assisting the customary institution of Dayak Wehea, at Nehas Liah Bing village, to manage Wehea protection forest deems that the national government must intervene in protecting the forest.

Currently, the indigenous terrotory of Dayak Wehea is facing serious threats: land conversion, mining, and ever-expanding palm oil plantation. Together, they foreshadow a massive destruction to the natural environment, whereas the local people's lives rely so much on the forest in terms of economy, social, and culture.

 "PROFAUNA and Dayak Wehea people urges the government to discontinue giving permits for mining companies, concessions, and palm oil plantations," declared Bayu Sandi, the coordinator of PROFAUNA Borneo.

PROFAUNA observes that there are several mining companies that operates in Muara Wahau and Kombeng districts, Kutai Timur regency: PT Tekno Orbit Persada (Ltd.) and PT Med Coal (Ltd.). A few weeks earlier, on 3 February 2015, the high council of Dayak Wehea went to the Ministry of Environment and Forestry to convey their disapproval to the mining activities in their indigenous territory.

Profauna demo tolak tambang di WeheaWehea protection forest is a vital habitat for various species. There are 61 mammas species inhabiting Wehea forest (27% of all mammals in Borneo, or 35% of all mammals in East Borneo), from 9 order and 22 families. Among the rare mammals are the Bornean Orangutan, Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus), Sunda Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi), Marbled Cat (Pardofelis marmorata), Bay Cat (Pardofelis badia) and Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus). In addition to the mammals, the forets is also home to at least 114 bird species and 18 species of bats. There are also more than 59 kinds of highly valuable trees.

 "Regarding to its ecological, social, and biodiversity values of Wehea forest, PROFAUNA strongly supports the local poeple in defending the forest from being converted into mining, concession, or palm oil plantation," added Bayu. PROFAUNA, which is known as a major mass-based NGO in Indonesia demands that the government review ther permits issued for mining.

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ProFauna Indonesia is an Indonesian society for the protection of
wild animals and their habitats