Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
Activists fight development of World Heritage site in Aceh
Plan could put half of Aceh's protected forests at risk, they claim
Deforestation in the Leuser Ecosystem caused major flooding in 2007
- Ryan Dagur, Jakarta
- December 12, 2013
Environmentalists in Aceh province have decried a local government plan to open areas of a Unesco World Heritage site to commercial development, saying it would endanger one of the country’s most vital ecosystems.
Muhammad Nur, director of the province’s chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment, said the plan – a draft regulation scheduled for signing by provincial Governor Zaini Abdullah – would further imperil Indonesia’s already disappearing forests.
“The regulation that will be approved at the end of December paves the way for palm oil and mining companies,” Nur said at a press conference in Jakarta on Wednesday.
At risk under the plan, say activists, are more than half a million acres of the 2.2 million acre Leuser Ecosystem, named under the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra as a World Heritage site in 2004 and inscribed in 2011 on Unesco’s list of World Heritage Sites in Danger.
Covering more than 2.6 million hectares, the ecosystem has a rich diversity of plant and animal life that would be irreparably damaged by further development, the Forum says.
“It means that Aceh will lose half of its forests if the drafted regulation is approved,” Nur said.
“According to the information we received, there are five oil palm companies urging the government to issue permits for using protected forests,” he said.
Ian Singleton, director of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program, said the government must protect the ecosystem to prevent a further decline in the population of the species, which dropped sharply in the past two decades.
He said further incursions into the ecosystem could result in the orangutans’ extinction within the next few years.
Activists have also launched an online petition calling on Aceh’s governor to honor the heritage status of the ecosystem.
They said the Leuser forest area is important as it provides a source of clean water for at least four million people in the province, and is an important resource for irrigation.
Husaini Syamaun, head of the Aceh Forestry Department, said the plan was not the result of pressure from business groups but aimed at protecting the local people who rely on the land for their livelihoods.
“We also think about our people, not just the forests and wild animals,” he told ucanews.com.
“Who should be the priority? People, right?”