Bustar Maitar’s storied career in environmental activism began in the Indonesian region of Papua, the land of his birth and today the coveted target of extractives and industrial agriculture companies. In his time at Greenpeace International, Maitar led a forest conservation campaign that pressured major corporations like Nestlé and Unilever to commit to zero deforestation in their supply chains. Maitar’s new venture, the EcoNusa Foundation, brings him back to Papua, where it all began, to push for protecting the forests, waters and other ecosystems of this last pristine frontier in Indonesia. In an interview with Mongabay founder Rhett A. Butler, Maitar talks about bridging international NGOs with local communities, ecotourism as a development model for eastern Indonesia, and the revival of the kewang system of traditional environmental stewardship in the Maluku Islands. With much of the accessible lowland primary forests in Sumatra and Borneo cleared and converted for agriculture and industrial plantations, the Indonesian half of New Guinea is the last stand for the rainforests that once blanketed Indonesia. The diversity of New Guinea’s forests are mirrored in its seas: the ecosystems around West Papua and the Maluku Islands are arguably the richest in the world. The region is […]

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