Indigenous Mentawai people are struggling to defend their last forest in North Pagai Island, Mentawai Islands Regency, West Sumatra.
They stopped heavy equipment belonging to the Essential Oil Cooperative, which began cutting down large tropical forest trees in Silabu Village to make 1,500 hectares of lemongrass plantations and cinnamon bark plants. The clearing of forests by the Essential Oil Cooperative received permission from the West Sumatra Forest Service.
Mentawai youths in North Pagai Island have received support from Mentawai students and NGOs in Padang—such as the Mentawai Student Forum of West Sumatra, WALHI, LBH Padang, and YCM Mentawai—formed the Mentawai Future Forest Rescue Coalition. They are struggling to stop the destruction of their forests, knowing well its potential to cause environmental problems and social conflicts, such as divisions between tribes.
North Pagai is one of the small islands in the Mentawai Islands located west of Sumatra. The Mentawai Islands are unique in that they separated from mainland Sumatra nearly a million years ago and have a high endemicity, among them endemic primates of Mentawai, namely bokkoi monkeys (Macaca pagensis), joja monkeys (Presbytis potenziani siberu), and bilou gibbons (Hylobates klosii).
This project will illustrate the efforts of Indigenous Mentawai youth to keep the forests standing and the impact of deforestation on the environment on North Pagai Island.