Peter de Koning, a 24-year-old from Assen, spent his savings to buy half of a rainforest in the Philippines and returned it to its indigenous inhabitants.
Translation by Traci White
Dagblad van het Noorden reports that De Koning learned about the Higaonon Tribal Forest, a section of rainforest on the Philippine island of Mindanao that is sacred land to the Higaonon tribe. Investors from the palm oil industry wanted to buy the forest and cut down trees to exploit the resources on the property.
The indigenous population started a crowdfunding campaign to buy the rain forest themselves to protect the nature and their own culture: the Higaonon tribe believes that their ancestors were saved from a flood by hiding in a mountain inside the forest.
De Koning, who grew up in Assen and now lives in Amsterdam, had built up quite a bit of savings working on for Boskalis, an offshore dredging company, and decided to buy half of the rainforest, 50 hectares, after Skyping with the leader of the tribe. “I didn’t have enough money to do more, otherwise I would have bought all of it.”
He travelled to the Philippines in March to visit the forest and make a documentary, which will be shown in Amsterdam on Thursday and shared online afterwards. He spent two days in the tropical forest and interviewed the leader of the tribe about what the forest means to them. “It was so beautiful, there were waterfalls and so many different kinds of trees and animals, and they’re all protected now.”
Photo source: Paul van der Vegt/Wikipedia