In The Burning Season, the Australian filmmaker Cathy Henkel shows the work of Danish-born Lone Droscher-Nielsen to rescue and care for hundreds of orang-utans in Borneo. She also films Achmadi, a palm oil farmer in the Indonesian province of Jambi, dependant on the practices so devastating to the environment to make a living.
In much of the film, Henkel accompanies environmental entrepreneur, Dorjee Sun, on his travels to sell the carbon credits from Indonesian forests to big polluters in the West.
“I met him at a Christmas party in Sydney,” Henkel says of the Tibetan-Chinese Australian law graduate who, she says, made his first millions developing software for the legal profession. “He said to me, ‘You’re not going to save the orang-utans by people donating $5 and $10 … it’s never going to work. It needs to be a far bigger solution’. I think he might have one. So I took a punt and said, ‘Can I follow you?”‘
Early in the film he persuades the governors of Papua, West Papua and Aceh to trade their forests on the carbon market. “I was pretty sceptical,” says Henkel, who filmed the negotiations. “Like most Australians, I did not know what carbon trading was or how it worked.”