Posts tagged papua new guinea

Our man in the sky

Shaun in flight © Greenpeace/Rante

Shaun in flight © Greenpeace/Rante

Someone who has taken part in all the research flights our helicopter Tweety has carried out is, of course, the pilot. Shaun (or Dingo as he’s known about the ship) has flown every mission in both Indonesia and during the previous leg in Papua New Guinea.

As a result, he’s seen a considerable amount of New Guinea and is able to draw comparisons between the two sides of the border.

Listen to the interview below to hear about Shaun’s experiences flying over New Guinea. There’s a transcript below.

Who have you been taking out on the flights and what have they been going to see?
Partly it’s been Bustar, the forest campaigner. He’s been coming out along with journalists to basically assure himself of what they’ve been told about certain areas, whether logging is being carried out or whether it is actually pristine forest, and basically documenting that. And also I’ve been taking out the cameraman and the videographer for documentation purposes.

You also flew over the forests of Papua New Guinea when the Esperanza was there a few weeks ago. Are there any differences you’ve noticed between the two sides of the island?
The main differences I’ve noticed between Papua New Guinea and Papua is the huge difference in the population. In Papua New Guinea, there are a lot more indigenous villages scattered throughout the forest and along the river ways. Whereas here in Papua, they seem to be more moved into settlement areas and into more modern housing – tin roofs, straight lines in streets. It was quite unusual, really.

What has been the most memorable aspect of your flights so far?
Most memorable thing has to be scenery – it’s incredible. Of course, Papua New Guinea has mountains and everything, and in Papua you have the same mountains and the same forest, but there’s a lot less logging activity on this Papuan side. But also the coastline on the Papuan side has been very beautiful – pristine beaches, coral reefs, and islands.

How different is it to land the helicopter on the ship compared to dry land?
There’s a big difference. Wind always plays a huge importance, but generally it’s a solo act on the ground – you know where your wind is coming from and you land accordingly. But with a ship, it’s also a moving object and it has to be positioned properly for the helicopter. And then hopefully the ground doesn’t move around too much underneath you with the swell.

So far on this trip it’s been quite easy because it’s flat seas here but I have landed on the ship when it’s been pitching and rolling quite badly. And the most daunting thing isn’t putting the helicopter on the deck, it’s when you’re down and then still be moving madly around, it’s just totally unnatural. Sometimes even now I’ll land and the helicopter will sway from side to side and it makes you think, “Woah, what’s going on?” It certainly is a different situation.

posted by Jamie on board the Esperanza

Leave a comment »

Feet on both sides of the border

Dorothy on the deck of the Esperanza © Greenpeace/Rante

Dorothy on the deck of the Esperanza © Greenpeace/Rante

We’ve been sailing past and through some of the most wonderfully named parts of the world – Flores, Butu, Ceram, Halmahera and their associated seas – which for me conjure up images of trading ships at full sail, laden down with cargoes of nutmeg, pepper and cloves.

It’s a very Eurocentric view, of course, and the spice trade was often at the expense of the local population, but I can’t help finding the associations with exploration and uncharted waters bewitching. (And for a very readable account of that period in history, you could do worse than track down a copy of Nathaniel’s Nutmeg by Giles Milton.)

But while these exotic locations drift by, we’re preparing for our arrival in Jakarta next week, and the long journey is also giving me a chance to catch up on some of the interviews I conducted between Jayapura and Manokwari.

One of the more interesting and colourful people I’ve had the pleasure of working with on this expedition is Dorothy. She’s a Greenpeace forest campaigner from Papua New Guinea and joined the Esperanza in Port Moresby in August. Dorothy left the ship last weekend in Manokwari but before she disembarked, I wanted to find out why it was important that she stay on the ship over the border into the Indonesian half of New Guinea.

Listen to the audio clip below and hear about Dorothy’s links to both Papua and Papua New Guinea. There’s a transcript below.

You’ve been on the Esperanza for both the Papua New Guina leg and some of the Indonesian leg. Why was it important to you to be on both sides of the border?
It’s been very important for many reasons. The first one being, as a campaigner, it’s good to understand that this island is rich in biodiversity and it’s one ecological system. The island has similar problems on both sides of the border and as a campaigner it’s important for me to understand what is happening here as well as in Papua New Guinea.

Also, as we go to international conferences, we tend to talk about the island as one, the island of New Guinea. It’s the world’s third largest rainforest and it’s important to think of it as a whole rather than as in parts. It has also enriched me personally to see the struggle of my colleagues on this side of the border, and the issues that they have here.

And you have quite strong personal ties to Papua, as well.
Personally, this visit has been a little bit emotional for me. Partly because I see the beauty of my island, being a descendent of people from the Papuan side. I’m actually from Papua New Guinea but my grandmother is from this side of the border, and it has been emotional for me to see the connections of my people in Papua to the environment, and to the forest especially because most of them are still dependent on it for their livelihood.

I have family on this side who live under a different political system, who live under different land and forest use laws. While it’s emotional, it’s also interesting to learn about their rights and it makes me more determined to see things in a way that unite us as indigenous people of this island rather than as people from two different countries with different legal and political systems.

Leave a comment »

My island, my forest, my home

Dorothy (right) with fellow Greenpeace campaigner Lien in Jayapura © Greenpeace/Rante

Dorothy (right) with fellow Greenpeace campaigner Lien in Jayapura © Greenpeace/Rante

Our welcome to the port of Jayapura on Monday was one I will always treasure. I had expected Asian Indonesians to do us the honours of welcoming us to Papua and was rather shocked at realising that my Papuan colleagues had organised an indigenous dancing group instead.

As the beating of the kundu or tifa drums reached us, I let tears flow for although I had not met any of these people before, the familiar music made me think that some of my relatives might be in amongst the welcoming party. The dance as well was so familiar, I grabbed the kundu from the ship and joined in the drumming and, later, the dancing.

After the ceremony, one of the dancers introduced himself and told me he was from Skuo, saying that we were indeed related. He had heard my Papuan colleagues call my name and was so excited to meet me, as he had already met most of my other family members. My great grandmother was a Papuan from Skuo which is just a few miles from the Indonesian border with Papua New Guinea, and not far from Jayapura.

Meeting the indigenous dancers and relatives meant a lot to me in joining this campaign to save the forests of this island. As an environmental advocate and activist, there is no border and not time to waste.

It’s about saving this beautiful last frontier on earth, the world’s third largest rainforest. It’s called the paradise forests of the Asian Pacific. It’s my home, too.

posted by Dorothy, campaigner, on board the Esperanza

Leave a comment »