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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The village where a curse protects the forest

Two hundred families live in Mungku Baru. Most are farmers, many have rubber plantations, some scour the forest for honey and traditional medicines.
“We also grow dry-land rice,” Anton, one of the villagers, told Mongabay. “We plant in October and harvest in March. It’s all organic. We don’t use chemical fertilizers.”
The most prized aspect of the village, however, is its rare ironwood forest. Known locally as ulin, Eusideroxylon zwageri is a high-value timber species and is often the first targeted by loggers. Its slow growth rate produces a tight grain that resists rot and termites. Ironwood buildings last for hundreds of years in the harsh wood-devouring climate of Indonesia.
The ironwood forest is located upriver of the village, besieged by PT Taiyoung Engreen, a timber company that is clear-cutting the surrounding forest. The company has, so far, respected the villagers’ rights to the land, leaving it untouched.
“The company has never disturbed our ironwood forest,” said Redie, one of the forest’s caretakers. “Therefore it is still in good condition.”...

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