JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia’s environment and forestry minister says Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio lacked complete information when he criticized the destruction of rainforests during a visit to a protected national park last month.
His comments prompted immigration officials to warn that DiCaprio could be barred from reentering Indonesia, but the minister, Siti Nurbaya, said she appreciates his good intentions and hopes to cooperate with him in future.
The Hollywood star made a one-day visit to protected Mount Leuser National Park in northern Sumatra and uploaded photos to his Instagram account, expressing concerns over species whose habitats are threatened by palm oil plantations.
But the apparent effort to raise awareness about endangered animals and burnish the star’s environmental credentials quickly backfired. The Indonesian government, meanwhile, has appeared inept, with officials making conflicting statements.
Nurbaya said it was “rather unfortunate” that DiCaprio had not obtained comprehensive information about deforestation in Indonesia over the past decade and the current government’s efforts to prosecute companies that violate environmental laws.
She said she had not been informed in advance about the actor’s visit to Sumatra but subsequent checks showed DiCaprio had followed proper procedures and was accompanied by forestry officials.
Slash-and-burn practices destroy huge areas of Indonesian forest every year during the dry season, creating haze that pollutes neighboring countries and causes massive economic losses. The fires are often set to clear land for agriculture, including palm oil plantations.
A representative for DiCaprio declined to comment.