Malaysian firm bidding to clear Papua forest loses land bid, but deforestation persists

This article was co-published with The Gecko Project.  A court in the Indonesian city of Jayapura has ruled against a Malaysian logging and property conglomerate in its bid to retain control of the rights to clear some of the world’s third-largest rainforest for an oil palm plantation. Despite the decision, handed down April 27, the area claimed by the firm, Maxim Global, remains slated for conversion to oil palms — only by a different conglomerate, Digoel Agri, with which Maxim has been jockeying for control of the planned development for half a decade. Digoel Agri has already cleared at least 228 hectares (563 acres) of forest, despite objections from members of local Indigenous groups who say they never agreed to its presence on their lands. The area in question forms part of the Tanah Merah project, a vast area on the island of New Guinea that was earmarked a decade ago to become the world’s largest oil palm plantation. Development of the project is just starting, but if it is carried through to completion, it will result in the clearance of 280,000 hectares (692,000 acres) of rainforest, releasing a huge volume of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The project was first greenlighted by Yusak Yaluwo, a local politician who was later convicted of corruption in a separate matter. It soon passed into the hands of a mysterious firm known as the Menara Group, which controlled the project through seven subsidiary companies that each held a license to develop approximately 40,000…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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