I have no idea to express what I’ve really felt when entering the interior of Aru Islands, the easternmost corner of Maluku Province. The landscape is really beautiful. Sailing with a traditional wooden boat, I found the riverside is flanked by amazing mangrove that grows abundantly. Simple villages beyond the fog were extremely peaceful. Fog in the river is a common occurrence but more-so during the dawn. The view was both amazing and mysterious.
Consists of more than 250 islands, Aru archipelago is well known as the only region in Maluku where 4 species of golden birds of paradise are living in harmony with Black Cockatoo, Tree Kangaroo, Cassowary, Deer, and indigenous forest people, those who depend on the forest for at least 75% of their daily needs. However, Aru Islands is a portrait of peaceful suffer and poverty. Although living the beautiful and richness environment, the poverty rate decreased for indigenous people up to 50%.
Unfortunately, instead of developing projects to improve the lives of people living in poverty, crazy policy of Maluku government allowed a greedy investment of 28 companies from Jakarta to replace 500 000 hectares of Aru forest with sugar cane plantation while the remain 200 000 hectares is just left for environmental protection. Ironically, the poor Aru people know nothing about this plan though a national regulation guarantees an indigenous land right. Currently, a way of life and unique environment of Aru Islands is threatened to be destroyed. Aru people are crying for help. They’ve organized their rally to stop the project because the sweetness of sugar is a bitter taste for them and their environment as well. Let us stand in solidarity with them! #SaveAru