Friday, 8 February 2008

New and Damning Palm Oil Report released

9th February 2008



(colour report will be available to view at
from Sunday 10th February.)

In yet another damning review of the palm oil industry, Nature Alert and Indonesia’s Centre for Orangutan Protection condemn the government of Indonesia for its complicity in the destruction of rainforests and the killing of orangutans.

Nature Alert’s Director, Sean Whyte says, “We call on President Yudhoyono to issue an immediate moratorium on the cutting down of rainforests for new palm oil plantations. He knows as well as anyone there is already plenty of previously deforested land available to grow new crops on.”

The palm oil industry and the Indonesian government already have the deaths of thousands of orangutans on their conscience. The truth is now out and they can be seen for what they are, merciless killers of orangutans as well as all other wildlife that once lived in the rainforests being cleared to this day at a breathtaking rate.

Hardi Baktiantoro, Director of Indonesia’s only specialist orangutan conservation organisation says, “I love my country but I hate what I see it doing to the rainforests and orangutans. We have to stop the destruction NOW – soon it will be too late.”

In a country once renowned through films and books as one filled with majestic trees teeming with wildlife, it is now possible to drive all day without seeing any rainforest. Instead, palm oil plantations are all one can see for mile after mile, no birds singing, no wildlife – the air is silent where once it would have been filled with the sounds of life.

Further information and contact details overleaf. High quality photos are available.

This is the third report in three years published by Nature Alert. Previous ones have resulted in the major UK retail companies responding positively to sourcing palm oil that can truly be classed as ‘sustainable’.

Attention is now being turned to the source of the problem – the government of Indonesia.

In Indonesia, palm oil plantation companies buy forests from the government. In selling licences the government is knowingly (there is zero doubt about this) condemning thousands of orangutans to a certain death. This is despite their avowed commitment to The Kinshasa Declaration (copy attached). Last November in Bali the President declared his personal commitment to saving orangutans – but why should anyone believe him?

The figure of 10,000 has been arrived at based on information provided by a leading expert in Indonesia. One should remember for every orangutan reportedly killed, it is thought that a further four will have died or been captured.

‘Based on recent spatial analysis. Of the 8,100,000 ha of land earmarked for oil palm development in Kalimantan, 1,000,000 ha is in orang-utan forest habitat, with 210,000 ha in peat forest and with the remainder on mineral soils. This 1 million ha of orang-utan habitat is to be converted to oil palm in the next 5 years, affecting perhaps 10,000 animals. Not all of these will be killed’.

Orangutans, of which there are two species (Bornean and Sumatran) are fully protected species and listed on Appendix 1 of CITES. Latest estimates suggest 7,000 Sumatran and
53,000 Bornean orangutans remain. some 50,000 have been killed in the past 35 years.

Nature Alert is a non-profit, all-voluntary organisation based in the UK, focused entirely on saving orangutans. Sean Whyte, its Founder/Director, along with Hardi Baktiantoro (see below), returned this week from West Kalimantan (Borneo) where fresh evidence of orangutan killing in one of the more remote regions of Borneo is all too evident, and it’s getting worse.
Tel: 01225 444929 07763 146677

The Centre for Orangutan Protection is the only all-Indonesian NGO dedicated to saving orangutans. Its Founder/Director, Hardi Baktiantoro, is widely recognised and respected in Indonesia as its leading campaigner for the protection of this species.
Tel: (Indonesia + 7 hours from UK) +62 8139 822 9911

Further information and photos are available on request. Please see above for contact details.