Indonesian Forestry Minister says gov’t wants to work with Leonardo Dicaprio, not ban him

When Leonardo DiCaprio visited Gunung Leuser National Park in Aceh last week, he was hoping to raise awareness about the Leuser Ecosystem’s incredible biodiversity and the threat that palm oil expansion poses to it. Well DiCaprio certainly raised awareness, but he also drew the attention of Indonesian government officials who threatened to deport the Oscar-winning actor for criticizing the country’s palm oil industry.

When government officials realized that DiCaprio had actually already left Indonesia (even before the original deportation threats had been made), they then said it was possible that Leo would not be allowed back into Indonesia – depending on what he posted to his social media accounts.

“We support his concern to save the Leuser ecosystem. But we can blacklist him from returning to Indonesia at any time if he keeps posting incitement or provocative statements in his social media,” said Heru Santoso, a spokesman for the Directorate General for Immigration at the Law and Human Rights Ministry, told the Associated Press on Saturday. That was two days after DiCaprio posted this on Facebook:

As the forests of Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem continue to be cleared to meet demand for Palm Oil, the critically…

Posted by Leonardo DiCaprio on Thursday, March 31, 2016

 

However, not everybody in the Indonesian government feels the same way about DiCaprio’s visit. On Saturday, Indonesia’s Minister of the Environment and Forestry, Dr Siti Nurbaya, told foresthints.news, “My view is that DiCaprio’s concerns are both sincere and substantial, and he has certainly acted in good faith. In fact, we largely share his concerns on this matter. In light of this and to reciprocate his sincerity and good intentions, I am open to working together with DiCaprio in a joint effort whereby both of us can have our concerns addressed, including those that pertain to the Leuser Ecosystem.”

The minister also said that DiCaprio had done nothing wrong during his time in Indonesia and dismissed the idea that his statements would affect his ability to travel in or out of the country.

“There was even an official from my ministry serving in the province who accompanied DiCaprio on his visit, in particular when he went to see the orangutans in the Gunung Leuser National Park. It’s really not relevant to link the concerns conveyed by DiCaprio with immigration matters,” Siti said.

However, the minister did mention that she wished DiCaprio had received a more comprehensive view of Indonesia’s efforts to protect the Leuser Ecosystem. Siti said that the government was actively analyzing and reviewing areas where palm oil plantations could be encroaching on forest ecosystems. She also said that the government’s approach needed to balance ecological concerns with the need to develop “sustainable community livelihoods”.

Siti went on to say that she would be in New York later this month at UN Headquarters and that, if DiCaprio happened to be in NYC at the same time, she’d like to the opportunity to explain to him the efforts President Joko Widodo’s administration has taken to address climate change issues.

We certainly hope that the minister is speaking for the whole government when she says that DiCaprio’s actions shouldn’t affect his immigration status into Indonesia, but somehow we feel this is probably yet another instance where different government agencies are on completely different pages.

But one thing is for sure – a lot more people know about the importance of the Leuser Ecosystem thanks to Leonardo DiCaprio. Whether he’ll ever be able to see it again in person, we’re not so sure about.

A world-class biodiversity hotspot, Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem is one of the most important areas of intact…

Posted by Leonardo DiCaprio on Tuesday, March 29, 2016

 

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