// Trouble In Paradise //

bai ririkPhoto by Matt Hannon

Like most surfers, Matt Hannon was initially drawn to the Mentawai islands of Indonesia by the lure of the perfect waves that consistently unload along the beautiful tropical islands, the warm water and amazing food. It didn’t take him long though to discover that there was much more than just surfing that made this place so special. He also discovered an impending problem that threatens all that he and so many other love about the place.

“I ended up staying for quite a few years and working on a range of things, from surf-guiding on charter boats and resorts to programme design with Surfaid International, punctuated by periods of vagabonding about the simple villages and hidden reefs.”

Matt recalls one of the first places he was lucky enough to stay was deep in the rainforests of Siberut Island, where he was introduced to the local community, as well as some of its animal inhabitants.

“I’ll never forget as a wide-eyed 22 year-old, watching in fear as one of the village women’s Malarial fever became so intense and convulsive, that the Sikerei (shamans) were called for from the neighbouring village. Longhaired, loin-clothed silhouettes arrived late into the night, paddling up-river in a dugout canoe under the warm moonlight. Bells jingled and their reassuring mantras bounced off the water. The chanting continued as they made their way to the sick lady’s hut to sing, dance and heal.”

Over time Matt learned about the culture, language and environment and has on return created this film that pays respect to all three.

“My intentions by making it are to give a digital voice to the obvious and resonating protest in Mentawai.”

There is plenty of talk these days about the issue of palm oil and the continued havoc that is being wreaked by deforestation of lush rainforest habitats in those countries affected, particularly Indonesia and Malaysia—islands with the most biodiverse tropical forests found on Earth.

As you can see from this video, the social and environmental implications of unsustainable palm oil production is dire. The rainforests and everything they provide is not only of great significance to the people for food and medicinal purposes, but to the countless animals that inhabit these areas. The already highly endangered orangutans of Indonesia and Borneo are predicted to be extinct within 20 years at the current rate of palm oil production, but we can all do our part to prevent this from happening.

Matt says that to his knowledge, many areas within Mentawai have in 2014, managed to deter the palm oil companies, whilst other villages are still in negotiations. “Other villages still have relinquished traditional titles of the land, and have consequently been locked into development concessions that render the land in question ‘State owned’.”

Palm oil is a hidden ingredient in food products. You have the right to know if palm oil is contained in the products you buy because of the environmental and social impacts of its production.

What can I do?

It can be very difficult for consumers to find palm oil free products without lots of research into which brands and products are safe to purchase.

Voting with our wallets is one of the best methods for forcing change within the market. Obviously we need to ensure that products are labeled correctly to aid us in making the best choices for the environment.

You can sign this direct letter which targets your local representative and asks that palm oil be labelled on Aussie supermarket shelves – You are more powerful than you think! Send an email expressing your concern today.


To learn more please visit – palmoilaction.org.au/

Please also share this link to as many people as you can…

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