Orangutans in Indonesia could be on the brink of extinction all for a product many Americans do not even know they are consuming. The Orangutans natural habitat in Indonesia are allegedly being burned down and decimated to make room for trees that produce palm oil.
Palm oil is a cheap ingredient that is used in almost half the items in American grocery stores. But because palm oil goes by so many different names it can be hard for consumers to identify it in the products they are purchasing.
Jane Velez-Mitchell spoke to Rolf Skar the Forest Campaign Director for Greenpeace USA. For more information visit Greenpeace.
To find out how you can adopt an orangutan check this link.
sign the petition at www.change.org/savetripa2
See the full story Friday night on Jane Velez-Mitchell at 7pm ET on HLN.
by Untung Widyanto, free translation by Adji Darsoyo
The title of the PowerPoint presentation is interesting: “High Conservation Value Forest”. The exposure of 35 slides reflects a review on one of the oil palm companiesin the Sub districts of Darul Makmur within Nagan Raya District in Aceh. On the 23rd slide, the company promises to conserve over 6,000 ha area. What happens now? “The new owner of the company does not care about the old promise,” said Graham Usher form SOCP yesterday. He presented satellite images from Landsat 7 taken from last year up to last week.
On December 26, 2011, for example, the forest cover of Tripa was 12,655 ha. Satellite image taken on last October 9 shows only 10,024 ha remaining. This means that during 2012, 2,631 ha of forest have gone. In fact, said Graham, 80% of those lost forest area lie within two concessions.
Currently, the largest forest fragment existing in Tripa Peat Swamp covers 5,365 ha. Other large forest fragments cover only 994, 674, 382, 250, and 146 ha each. The rest are under 100 ha.
This information is, according to Ian Singleton, very important, regarding that one orangutan in the wild nature needs quite a large exploring range. E.g. the female ones need up to 1,500 ha. This means that remaining orangutan within the existing fragments will have difficulties to have enough range and food.
Besides satellite image, the team of SOCP also took aerial video recording. “Since June, one of the concessions has excavated more than 15 km drainage,” said Graham.
● UNTUNG WIDYANTO
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)
[ENGLISH Translation will be available soon]
Große braune Augen schauen Ian Singleton an: es sind die Augen eines geretteten Affenbabies, eines Orang Utans in der Quarantäne-Station des Tierschützers. Er und sein Team versuchen auf der indonesischen Insel Sumatra so viele Orang Utans wie möglich vor dem Tod zu retten. Ihr Feind: die Palmölindustrie, sie raubt den Tieren durch Brandrodungen ihren Lebensraum. Indonesien ist der weltgrößte Produzent, der Weltmarktanteil liegt bei 44%, denn fast die Hälfte aller Produkte im Supermarkt enthalten Palmöl. Es befindet sich zum Beispiel in Backwaren, Waschmittel und Süßwaren.
Der Boden und das Klima auf Sumatra sind für die Palmölindustrie ideal. Hunderte von Brandrodungen gab es bereits in diesem Jahr, dabei sind sie in Indonesien verboten. Konkret bedroht: der Torfsumpfwald von Tripa an der Westküste, das hochsensible Ökosystem gehört zum UNESCO-Weltkulturerbe. Die Konzerne interessiert das wenig, für sie zählt der Profit. Das hat dramatische Folgen für die Affen: ihr Lebensraum wird vernichtet, viele Tiere finden kaum noch Nahrung und verhungern, andere werden getötet, weil sie auf der Suche nach Futter den Palmölfeldern zu nahe kommen. Die Orang-Utan-Babies werden häufig auf dem Schwarzmarkt verkauft und landen oft als Haustier im Käfig – auch das eigentlich verboten auf Sumatra.
Weltweit– Autor Norbert Lübbers hat sich mit seinem Team auf den Weg nach Tripa gemacht, die brennenden Wälder gesehen und einen Palmöl-Produzenten damit konfrontiert. Aber er hat auch gesehen, wie den Affen in der Quarantäne-Station geholfen wird: Die Tierschützer peppeln die verstörten Oang Utans auf und wildern sie später aus, sie werden umgesiedelt in einen entfernten Regenwald – dorthin, wo die Palmölindustrie noch nicht vorgedrungen ist.
Eine Weltweit-Reportage von Norbert Lübbers
Redaktion: Swantje von Massenbach
Evakuasi Orangutan Rawa Tripa | Koran Tempo (Downloadable .pdf article in Bahasa Indonesia)
There is no more food in Tripa
Environmental activists have again evacuated an orangutan, which was cornered through oil palm plantation.
Seuneam can now build its own nest in Jantho Nature Reserve in Aceh. This 90 kg Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) has also been approaching the females in that forest. “He will most probably have several children in several years,” said the Director of Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) Ian Singleton. According to Singleton, the programme has released 30 ex captive orangutans in Jantho, which is managed by the foundation he is working with. Those orangutans are victims of forest clearing by oil palm plantation companies and other industries. Seuneam was just released in this forest last October 15.
Seuneam was forced to be evacuated from Tripa Peat Swamp forest of Aceh’s Nagan Raya District. Because, he was alone within a block of forest isolated in the middle of oil palm plantations belonging to a number of companies. In the past several months, the SOCP has sighted Seuneam. But, as he was to be captured, he climbed high up a tree and vanished. By the end of last September, a team from Jakarta and from Nagan Raya District Office of Forestry saw the orangutan within the same forest block.
Three weeks ago, SOCP managed to catch and immediately relocate the orangutan to Jantho. They named the orangutan Seuneam. According to Singleton, this animal looks physically quite healthy and not too thin. But, many of its teeth are damaged from eating tree barks for a long time. “He was forced to eat it, since no fruit was available in Tripa,” he said. Singleton is suspicious that there is an air rifle bullet stuck in Sueneam’s body.
Fortunately, Seuneam is a wild orangutan that he immediately adapted with the forest of Jantho. Moreover, many different kinds of fruits are available in this nature reserve of Aceh Besar District. Until now, SOCP staffs still observe Seuneam. Singleton expects the Government to immediately prosecute oil palm companies violating the law. Also to withdraw permits of companies conducting clearing by burning and land clearing activities that violates existing procedures.
Singleton was informed that companies still currently excavating canals, draining the peat swamp forest. Those drainages certainly are damaging the functions of peat ecosystem. “More and more species of timber trees will die, huge amount of carbon will be released through oxidation and damaging the biodiversity, including orangutan,” said Singleton. Therefore, he requested the government to finalise the case of Tripa right now, and recover the forest. “If not, the remaining around 200 orangutans in Tripa will die and the peat swamp forest vanish next year,” he said.
The Tripa Peat Swamp forest is clearly on the brink of total destruction. In the early 80’s, this coastal peat swamp forest on the south western of Aceh still covered no less than 62,000 ha. At that time, around 1,000 orangutans, bears and other species live within the area. Disaster occurred as the New Order regime issued concession to a number of private companies in 1991. Those companies cleared the peat forest and converted it into oil palm plantations.
Now, there are 7 companies in the possession of concessions in Tripa. Peat Swamp. Each occupies between 3,000 to 13,000 ha. Thus, it remains only around 17,000 ha. Expert estimate around 280 orangutans live within this remaining area.
Luckily, Aceh Governor Zaini Abdullah revoked a permit last month, which was issued by the former Governor Irwandi Yusuf. On August 25, 2011, Irwandi issued a plantation permit covering 1,605 ha to PT Kallista Alam. This company, with its head quarter in Medan, is one of the most active corporates in Tripa Peat Swamp since the peace accord of 2005. The case of Kallista Alam increasingly sticking up internationally based on its clearing by burning activities.
The same method has been also conducted by PT Surya Panen Subur (SPS 2). The National Police, the Attorney General and the Ministry of Environment have been investigating this company. The Presidential Working Unit for the Development Control and Supervision (UKP4) has also been assisting the process. “We look at the case from the perspective of both criminal and civil law. Strong suspicion of deliberate conduct, in this case towards the burning activities,” said the Deputy VI of the Ministry of Environment, Sudaryono. But the case is yet not handed over to the court.
Adnan N.S., member of the Supervisory Board of Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari (Foundation for Sustainable Ecosystem) urged the government to immediately finalise the legal case on Tripa. At the same time, he said, also to immediately rehabilitate the destroyed peatland. “The first immediate step is to close the drainage in the oil palm plantation area,” he said.
A number of community groups, said Adnan, have recommended to conduct reforestation in Tripa. He himself recommends for polyculture. Other recommendation that came from the Central Government was to declare Tripa as wildlife forest. Reforestation of Tripa is important for the community and also for Seuneam and another hundreds of remaining orangutans. ● UNTUNG WIDYANTO
Vast swathes of land on the Indonesian island of Sumatra have been cleared for palm oil plantations and the native wildlife has been left with nowhere to go.
David Brill reports on the mission to rescue the orangutans and return them to the wild elsewhere.
Hundreds are being looked after by the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program, which also rescues those kept as pets in appalling conditions.
But on a visit to a decimated forest, it’s clear the conservation team still has a battle on its hands to save these human-like creatures.
EXTRA – For more information on the groups featured in David’s story, follow the links under ‘resources’ on SBS Dateline Website http://www.sbs.com.au/dateline/story/about/id/601533/n/Ape-Rescue. Earth 4 Orangutans also has information on Dr Ian Singleton’s speaking tour of Australia.
To adopt baby orangutan please visit http://www.orangutan.org.au/adopt_orphan_orangutan/Chocolate
Please sign the petition at http://www.change.org/savetripa2
Who knows, may be the Presiden was too busy to read or to receive reports on the issues around the operation of oil palm plantations in this country. The statement contradicts the report of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claiming that the production of Crude Palm Oil from Indonesia is environmentally unfriendly. EPA replied by visiting this country to look closer at the oil palm plantation.
Before visiting the plantations, EPA’s representative attended a 1-day workshop with the topic Sustainable Palm Oil Related to GHG Emission in Jakarta. This event was initiated by ISPO Commission in collaboratio with the Indonesian Oil Palm Council (DMSI), Indonesian Palm Oil Association (Gapki) and supported by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Let us have a glimpse look at some excerpts of events showing how “unclean” the oil palm plantations in this country, be it of the members of Rountable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) or not. Still fresh in our memory, by the end of September 2012, as Aceh Governor Zaini Abdullah revoked the permit of PT. Kalista Alam over 1,605 ha oil palm plantation in Aceh’s Tripa Peat Swamp. The permit issued by former Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf in August 2011 was included within the area of moratorium.
This permit was not only violating the procedure – which was legally challenged by WALHI Aceh and granted by the Administrative High Court of Medan, the land clearing was done by burning. For the clearing by burning, the Presiden Director of PT Kalista Alam became a suspect.
Is Tripa Peat Swamp free from destruction? The answer is: No. Why? There are still oil palm companies remaining within this peat swamp forest area, which is part of Leuser Ecosystem. By the end of 2012, smokes were still observed within the areas of several oil palm concessions.
Data from Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari (YEL) obtained from satellite images until September 2012, the highest number of hotspots were identified within two olil palm concession areas, which are 134 in the area of PT Surya Panen Subur and 55 of PT Dua Perkasa Lestari. “It turns out that whilst fussing about PT Kalista Alam, the others took the chance to continue their action,” said Riswan Zen, a researche of Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari (YEL), by the beginnig of October 2012.
Another case, within the plantation of PT Bumi Pratama Khatulistiwa (PT BPK) of Wilmar International Group. By the end of August 2012 in the village of Sungai Enau, Sub district Kuala Mandor b of the District Kubu Raya in West Kalimantan, farmers have been protesting against this oil palm company, member of RSPO. This is not the first time. They repeatedly demanded the company to fulfil its promises, among others to improve the access road and to employ the surrounding community.
Those to points are parts of the agreement between the company and the community as the condition for the community to release their lands. This agreement has been reviewed many times, the last was due in the mid of August. Since there was no realisation, the community reclaimed their land of around 4,000 ha. This is only one of a number of the issues resulted through the presence of oil palm companies in this area.
Investigation of WALHI West Kalimantan in April 2012 shows that the company has ignored the social aspect and the aspect of sustainable management of the environment. The company also ignored a number of regulations related to the obligations to fulfil as being member of RSPO and the IFC’s standard of performance.
The standard regulations of RSPO are among others commitment to transparency, complying with existing laws and regulations, commitment to long term economic and financial viability. Then, targeted best management practices of the plantation and the mill, environmental responsibilty, conservation of natural resources and biodiversity, as well as responsibility upon workers, individuals and community affected by the plantation and the mill.
Standard criteria of IFC are among others assessment on social, environmental, management and labor systems and working condition, mitigation to pollution, utilisation, health and community’s safety and security. Then, land acquisition and resettlement as well as sustainable conservation of biodiversity and natural resources, indigenous community and culutural heritage.
According to Hendrikus Adam, Research and Communication Coordinator of WALHI West Kalimantan, WALHI’s findings are among others that the community does not experience any social responsibility of the company. If there was, it was based on the request of the community, not based on the company’s initiative. And then also that the company grabs the land from the community during the expansion of the plantation.
Conflict potensial in the field related to the presence of the company are still existing. This is visible through sign boards installed by the community restricting the company to work on the land within the company’s plantation area. “The community has been demonstrating demanding company’s righteousness. The community has claimed the land, plasma Potensi konflik di lapangan, terkait kehadiran perusahaan masih ada. Kondisi ini, terlihat dari pemasangan sejumlah plang oleh warga sebagai tanda perusahaan dilarang mengerjakan lahan di areal perkebunan PT. BPK. “Warga pernah demonstrasi menuntut keadilan kepada PT. BPK. Banyak lahan diklaim masyarakat, plasma plantation was managed by the company and never divided amongst the farmers,” he said mid September 2012.
The company was considered not trasparent in the management of the plantation. The clearing of the plantation land of PT. BPK also destroyed the forest in the surrounding of community’s settlement. “This totally eliminates the biodiversity and existing wild life as well as traditional medicine plants.”
Could orangutans become the first great ape species to face extinction in the wild? Their habitat is under severe threat, slashed and burned by companies cultivating palm oil, found in thousands of products that line supermarket shelves. Environmentalists are surgically implanting radio chips into orangutans for research. NBC’s Ian Williams reports.
Could orangutans become the first great ape species to face extinction in the wild? Their habitat is under severe threat, slashed and burned by companies cultivating palm oil, found in thousands of products that line our supermarket shelves. NBC’s Ian Williams travels to Sumatra, Indonesia to find what is being done to save man’s closest living relative. The full report airs Thurs., Oct. 18 at 10pm/9c on NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams.