Operation Aceh – Wildlife Asia’s mission to save critical rainforest facing imminent threat of destruction
After conservationists seemingly won a small victory in 2012 to protect the Tripa peat forest in Aceh, a new, far more serious threat to Indonesia’s forests and wildlife has emerged.
The Indonesian Government appears poised to approve a proposal to free up 1.2 million hectares of protected virgin rainforest on Sumatra island for commercial exploitation.
Conversion of this primary rainforest could ultimately mean extinction for the last remaining populations of Sumatran orangutan, Sumatran rhino and elephant. The world renowned Leuser ecosystem is the only remaining forest to contain all of these species along with tigers, sunbears, gibbons, tapirs and leopards. It symbolises the enormous biodiversity teetering on a knife edge in Indonesia.
In a frightening development last week, Canadian mining company East Asia Minerals, said the plan to clear 1.2 million hectares was “positive news” for mining in the area.
An Indonesian forestry ministry spokesman says the government aims to approve the plan “in up to a month”.
In a strangely bold admission, East Asia Minerals explained how it is “working closely with Government officials in the country and has representatives on the ground in Aceh to obtain reclassification of the forestry zone from “protected forest” to a “production forest”.
Their statement suggests that they are effectively driving public policy, namely spatial planning, in Aceh.
It is imperative that spatial planning be based on sound scientific analysis of land suitability and environmental risks and it is outrageous to consider that such decisions could be driven by foreign companies with considerable financial incentive and complete disregard for the future wellbeing of local communities and a sustainable economy for Aceh.
Illegal logging and mining is already occurring in these concessions with devastating consequences for both the forest and the incredible wildlife it supports. The proposed changes to the spatial plan would also approve an extensive new network of roads, resulting in even further forest destruction and encroachment. In an area already prone to natural disasters, this is an incredibly dangerous decision and one which will invariably result in an increased loss of lives and huge economic losses to local communities.
Australian based conservation organisation, Wildlife Asia spokesperson, Clare Campbell said “Approval of the plan to free up this enormous area of forest for mining, paper and palm oil plantations is an environmental disaster of catastrophic proportions. Not only is this area the last chance for several species already in serious trouble but it also contains critical carbon sinks and forests that are essential for food security, regulating water flow and mitigating climate change. This will be devastating for the future of communities living in these areas as well as the broader region”.
Ms Campbell stated that “We have to stand strong against decisions that lack foresight. Wildlife Asia represents the wildlife, the people of Indonesia and the people of Australia. Forest destruction of this magnitude eventually impacts upon us all. We won’t compromise, the planet has been compromised enough. When does it stop?”
Wildlife Asia this week launched a campaign to raise funds to support local organisations in their mission to influence government decisions. Ms Campbell added “Campaigning at this level takes serious time and money and we need to pull in the heavyweights on this one. Once it’s gone, it’s gone…the future of the Sumatran orangutan, the Sumatran rhino and the people of Sumatra need the right decision to be made here. I urge all Australians to dig deep and assist us in any way possible”
Donations can be made here www.givenow.com.au/wildlifeasia
Wildlife Asia Director, Clare Campbell, is available for interviews and can be contacted on 0438 992 325
Orangutan Outreach has been partners with International Animal Rescue (IAR) since 2009. The orangutans of West Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) now have a safe haven at IAR’s Orangutan Rescue Center in Ketapang. There, they are cared for and rehabilitated by trained professionals until the day comes when they can be released into a safe forest or island sanctuary.
This is a public event and invitation open to everyone
please find media invite below
Aceh is currently preparing to open over 1.2 million hectares of protected forest for the development of mines, plantations, roads, logging and palm oil expansion. This devastating plan would reduce total forest cover of Aceh from 68% to 45% and see the destruction of Tripa and other areas of the protected Leuser Ecosystem driving Sumatran orangutan, elephants, tigers and rhinos to extinction.
Act now! This must be stopped.
Donate > http://www.sumatranorangutan.org
Act now! This is URGENT and it must be stopped.
MORE – http://www.sumatranorangutan.org
DONATE – http://www.sumatranorangutan.org
SIGN – http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Save_Sumatras_Rainforest/?cLRqweb
If there are enough signatures in the next 14 hours, Avaaz will share this petition with more of their 20 million members, this could be HUGE! but we have to act FAST.
Please sign, then share this petition everywhere, facebook, twitter, email and every other creative way you can think, this is a huge change to Save Aceh!
URGENT CALL FOR ACTION – 4 day “fax-a-thon” to save beyond 1.2 million hectares of forest in Aceh Province, Sumatra
Aceh is preparing to open over 1, 2 million hectares of protected forest to make way for mining, plantations, roads, logging and palm oil expansion. Its the equivalent of forest 17 times the size of Singapore, yet the Aceh government is currently fast-tracking new law for the spatial plan, and this new spatial plan will legitimize the disaster of destroying the last of Sumatra’s great forests, and laying the final blow to the Sumatran Rhinos, Elephants, Orangutans and Tigers once roaming Sumatran forest to become something only found in Zoos or history books.
The chairman of Aceh Parliament spatial planning committee, Tgk. Anwar recently told the Sydney Morning Herald that the proposed plan would reduce Aceh total forest cover from its existing coverage of 68% of Aceh total land area to merely 45%, representing the destruction of around 1,2 million hectare, including the entire Tripa Peat Swamp Swamp, major parts of Leuser Ecosystem which is also protected under National Spatial Planning Law 26/2007 juncto Government Regulation 26/2008, and areas within the UNESCO World Heritage Tropical Forests of Sumatra.
This planned destruction is the result of a ‘perfect storm’ of planning failures. Firstly, the end of the ‘Norway Moratorium’ protecting Primary Forest and Peat Swamp, secondly the cancellation of ‘Moratorium on logging’ initiated by former governor Irwandi.
Tgk. Anwar, in his interview with the Sydney Morning Herald on Jan 15, 2013 have stated “The nature of the logging moratorium is that its temporary, so it can be revoked anytime” – validating the destructive path Aceh government is going to take on its forest protection. The two events (end of Norway Moratorium and Moratorium on logging), combined with huge reduction in forest protection designation, meaning forest area previously protected for their natural ecological services, such as preventing landslides and mitigating floods, will now be opened for massive land clearing to make way for mining, plantations, roads, logging and palm oil expansion.
The academic advisor for Aceh Governor, Dr. Irfan, has stated in the Sydney Morning Herald on Jan 15, 2013 that with the new spatial plan, “there will be more areas given for the people”. Alarmingly, areas that are proposed for ‘community plantation and settlement’ are areas currently protected with the status of wildlife corridors. This means, community are being sacrificed and human-wildlife conflict will happen more frequently at escalating scale. At the same time, it also means that the iconic megfauna of Sumatra, including Tigers, Elephant, Rhinos and Orangutan will be pushed closer to extinction.
We are asking YOU, to voice this concern to the Governor of Aceh Zaini Abdullah and the Vice Governor of Aceh Muzakkir Manaf to reconsider pushing such destruction onto their province, and also to ask the donor representatives of the world, who have invested so much already to the protection of Aceh forest, to assist with the funding and technical support for the Aceh government to revisit and revise this potential disaster. European Union has expressed interest to assist Aceh to keep protecting its forest, let them know you care too!
Attached below is downloadable .pdf file that needs your personal or organizational signature, please print, sign and fax this document to these numbers:
Governor of Aceh: +62-651-7553048
Presidential Working Unit for Supervision and Control of Development: +62-21-2314147
Anti Corruption Commission: +62-21-5290 5592
Key International Embassy:
Embassy of Sweden : +62-21-5762691
Embassy of Norway : +62-21-5761537 or Fax: + 62-21-2965 0001
Embassy of Denmark : +62-21-5761535
Embassy of Finland : +62-21-5761631 or Fax: +62-361-287242
UNESCO: +33-1-45 68 55 70
We have seen and heard the comments from the good folks who have tried to fax but had problems. What we’ve found is two of the numbers to the Governors office remained problematic, but the one left worked each time.
The embassy fax numbers didn’t work everytime, but did sometimes. We’ve unable to explain why sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn’t. But we do know the embassy team is one of our strongest allies at the moment, and every fax they get strenghtens their argument next time they meet with the Governernor that he needs to stop the spatial plan, and review the advisors he has to start the process again to ensure the protected areas get full protection!
The rainforests are the lungs of our planet and must be protected. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently determined that palm oil should not be included in the Renewable Fuel Standard, because palm oil causes the most pollution due to the clearing and burning dense rainforests, many of them on carbon-rich peatland, for oil palm plantations.
The palm oil industry is vigorously attacking EPA’s conclusion, alleging it’s based on inaccurate assumptions and data. It doesn’t want it used to disqualify palm oil-based fuels from the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).
The industry has hired lobbying companies like Holland & Knight to overturn EPA’s preliminary finding that palm-based biofuels don’t meet the greenhouse gas standards of the federal renewable auto fuels mandate.
Indonesia is the world’s biggest palm oil producer. The widespread deforestation for new plantations has made Indonesia the world’s third biggest global warming polluter and has led to the killing of endangered species like orang utans.
Next week an EPA delegation will visit a palm oil plantation on Sumatra island and then meet the Indonesian agriculture minister, Gamal Nasir. Regarding this visit, it is extremely important to make the EPA aware of the environmental hazards caused by the cultivation of palm oil.
Please tell the EPA to stand by their decision that palm-based biofuels don’t meet the greenhouse gas standards of the federal renewable auto fuels mandate!
- By 2020, Indonesian palm oil plantations will release more CO2 than Canada (energybulletin.net)
- U.S. officials to visit Indonesia for palm oil emissions talks (reuters.com)
- [Off-the-shelf] Children of the Sunshine Industry: Child Labor and Workers’ Condition in Oil Palm Plantations in Caraga-CTUHR (hronlineph.com)
- Palm Oil Seen Clearing Tropical Forest in Borneo in Yale Study – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Stop the EPA From Including Palm Oil in BioFuel Standards! (gettingonmysoapbox.wordpress.com)
Orangutan refugee camps can be pretty desperate places, with no shortage of agonising stories of suffering and survival – but also of resilience and hope.
Dr Ian Singleton runs a hillside complex near the Indonesian island of Sumatra where 46 of our closest living relatives live.
Among the orangutans are those who have been seizes from animal traders whose parents have most likely been caught and shot.
You don’t get to keep them but your donation will help keep them alive.
Rock center NBC story: Demand for Palm Oil used in packaged food products leaves Orangutans at risk