The local government of Aru Islands, south-west of West Papua in Indonesia's Maluku Province, has granted permission for a Jakarta-based company to harvest 500,000 hectares of forest to set up a mega sugar cane plantation.
The Save Aru Islands spokesperson, Reverend Jack Manuputty, says the indigenous Arunese rely on the forest for their daily needs, and the sacred land is home to birds of paradise, tree kangaroos, deer and black cockatoos.
He says the deal with PT Menara group was made behind closed doors, without the indigenous peoples' knowledge or permission.
"Our local government, the governor, gave them recommendation and permission to do their thing in the Aru Islands without asking permission from the local people. It's against our national regulations. The local people have a right on their land."
Reverend Jack Manuputty says the local people have set up a petition and rallied against the plan, and will continue to fight against it.