These communities are on the frontlines.
Rainforests are being bulldozed and burned for corporate profit: from palm oil plantations to cattle, soy, cocoa, pulp and paper. At the frontlines of this destruction for profit are the local and Indigenous communities whose lands are being stolen, whose water is being disrupted and whose lives are being threatened.
All too often, when frontline communities assert their rights and attempt to protect their lands and forests from corporate exploitation, they face intimidation, criminalization, and violence.
In Indonesia, the traditional and customary lands of Indigenous and local communities –– vibrant forests and peatlands –– are turned into industrial pulpwood and palm oil plantations without their consent.
Years of smart, dedicated corporate campaigning have pushed many companies to make important policy commitments to “No Deforestation, No Development on Peat, and No Exploitation” but corporate promises only go so far. Despite these commitments, real change is still needed for forests, peatlands, and Indigenous and frontline communities.Beyond Paper Promises profiles the stories of farmers in the Sumatran communities of Lubuk Mandarsah, Op. Bolus, and Aek Lung, who have all been resisting corporate take-over of their lands by pulpwood companies, like Toba Pulp Lestari. For generations, these Indigenous Batak communities have planted benzoin trees in the forests on their traditionally-owned lands and have sustainably harvested the tree’s resin for an incense similar to frankincense. For many this is a significant cultural practice and the primary source of cash income, but a huge pulpwood company has taken much of the benzoin forests, clearing them for eucalyptus pulp plantations and directly threatening the livelihoods of many communities.
Another story comes from the Sumatran Indigenous community of Bunin, Indonesia, on the border of the globally important Leuser Ecosystem in East Aceh. Although this community has secured a village forest protection scheme under the Indonesian Governments’ Ministry of Environment and Forestry program, they still face threats and uncertainty since the rogue palm oil company PT. Tegas Nusantara was previously given a permit by the government to use part of their village lands to establish a palm oil plantation. The community continues to oppose the development of palm oil plantations on their lands, and to this day they have refused to give their consent to the company that intends to clear the forests on their community territory.
These communities, and so many more, are organized and fighting back. As Abson Lumban Batu –– one community member of Aek Lung in North Sumatra –– says: “We are ready to defend our land to our very last breath, because this land is our life.”
The Pargamanan-Bintang Maria community is fighting for rainforest lands David vs. Goliath style.
But many communities now are fighting back for their right to their customary lands — and the right to live their lives the way so many generations before them did. One of them is the Pargamanan-Bintang Maria community in North Sumatra. Their extensive farming of rice and local crops and harvesting incense from benzoin trees has kept the rainforests and community healthy and intact for decades. Learn more about these forest defenders and how we can join forces in their fight for their lands.
Solidarity with frontline communities.Indonesia to the Amazon rainforest, and all across the world, frontline and Indigenous communities are fighting to have their legal rights to traditional and ancestral lands respected. They’re fighting to protect their forests, their culture and their ways of life. Indigenous communities are defending their lands for the health and vitality of everyone in the world.
The lived experiences in frontline communities are the true measure of whether or not corporations are keeping their promises. Learning from their stories and following their lead, we work in solidarity with local and Indigenous communities to challenge corporate power.
Through partnering with local communities and organizations, we conduct undercover field investigations and supply chain research, challenging the corporate “green wash” with true reports from the ground, calling out bad corporate actors and holding them accountable to real and meaningful change.
Together we can hold corporations accountable.
Together, we demand more from global corporations than paper promises. We demand real and substantial change to their destructive, ‘business-as-usual’ practices.
All too often, unchecked corporate greed ignores laws, regulations, and moral imperative for maximum profit. Corporations are allowed to pass the buck, deny responsibility for the impacts of their business practices, and we are all left to pay the incredibly high price.
We say, No More. Corporations must be held accountable for their impact on rainforests, communities, and our global climate.