Monday, 17 May 2010

Life is No Good in Medco's and LG's Merauke Biofuel Plantation

Medco Group's 170,000 hectare industrial timber plantation (HTI) in Muting, Merauke, Papua province, is already doing what it was always going to do - destroying the environment and livelihoods of local Papuans in the name of "green energy" and "development".

A recent article on Tabloid Jubi - Papua's independent media outlet - covers complaints about Medco's activities from Mr Albertus Gebze Moiwend, deputy head of the Merauke Indigenous People's Institute (LMA Merauke). 

In the article, Mr Moiwend explains that Medco's forest clearance is already restricting access to hunting areas, firewood, and other resources that underpin the livelihoods of local Malind tribe members in Boepe village, which has been moved from its original location to a site three kilometers from the river.

"So when the new area is opened, then there is no forest cover that protects the soil which caused misery for residents around the area of Papua PT.Medco operation." 

He also says Medco has dumped pulp factory waste into local rivers without processing it first, resulting in pollution of the waters.

In late 2009, Korean conglomerate LG International Corp. announced its  entry into a partnership with the Medco Group to acquire 1 million hectares of Papua's forests for wood pellets. To enable this, LG spent US$ 25 million on a 25% of PT Metra Duta Lestari, with another 66% held by Medco. LG reports that this gave it a stake in Medco's 170,000 hectare plantation in Muting.

Medco Group have claimed repeatedly that their plantation - which will produce wood pulp and pellets for paper and energy - will not result in deforestation. Yet the company is already processing large volumes of timber from natural forests, and has already shipped several barges of chips from the area.

More telling is LG's admission that if it gets the other 830,000 hectares the venture will result in the harvesting of "1.4 million tons of wood chips and 360,000 tons of wood pellets annually". While describing its investment with Medco as a "forestation" project, LG gave away the fact that it is actually deforestation they will be doing first.

"The Merauke forestry concession area, where Eucalyptus and Acacia trees grow abundantly, will be divided into 6 zones. Mature trees will be logged on yearly basis and the seedlings will be planted in the cleared forest."
This, it is claimed, will produce "clean energy fuel replacing fossil fuels".

LG International is an affiliate of the global electronics brand - LG Group - who's marketing slogan is "life's good". However, according to Mr Moiwend, who also warned that Medco's operations could result in the "slow extermination" of local Papuans, life is not all that good after all.

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