Monday, 19 October 2009



to be published October 14, 2009


Sampit, West Kalimantan – The Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP) and the people of Tumbang Koling village stand up today to fight for illegal loggers and palm oil companies that damage their traditional forests located at Cempaga upriver. A big tent was set up in the Southern part of the forest that is side by side to a palm plantation of PT Windu Nabatindo Lestari, a subsidiary of IOI Corporation Berhad – Malaysia. Starting today, they will guard the border and patrol the forest.

“Illegal loggers cut down the trees in the Southern part of Tumbang Koling and sell the timber to various oil palm companies. Orangutans and 11 species of rare mammals as bears, gibbons and tarsius, are now under serious threats. This is well-planned crimes. Companies would easily deny accusations that they are destructing the forests by pointing to illegal loggers as the culprit, while they are actually the customers of the timber themselves,” said Yon Thayrun, COP’s Habitat Campaigner. “In the destroyed forests, palm oil companies will easily expand their claws’ reach. This is the new modus operandi of crimes committed by the RSPO (Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil) members toward orangutans and their habitat.”

“In the past, companies such as the IOI commit the crime alone. They paid loggers to demolish big old trees. Then later their heavy machineries will take care of the rest, by knocking down the smaller trees. During the Fifth Meeting of RSPO (18 -20 November 2007), COP documented the demolition and rescue operation of orangutans in concession areas of IOI in Bukit Makmur, Central Kalimantan,” said Hardi Baktiantoro, COP’s Orangutan Campaigner.

Christopel Sahabu, the elderly of the local Dayak people has explained that Tumbang Koling’s traditional forest is a giant pharmacy, home to zillions of traditional medicines and the source of life to local people. Since 1972, he and his family has harvested rattan and rubber from the forest.

“If the forest is gone, we don’t know where else to find food. I don’t want to work as a laborer to palm oil companies. We are the owners of the forest since the times of our ancestors. Why should we live as laborers in our own land? The life of our relatives who work at oil palm plantations is getting worse. This is our land, our forest, in the jurisdiction of the Republic of Indonesia. It’s only normal to expect that the government protect it from the Malaysians’ dominance,” said Christopel Sahabu while hoisting up the Red-and-White flag of Indonesia in front of his camp.

Notes to the Editors:

1. Tumbang Koling community forest is located in Cempaga Hulu District, Kotawaringin Timur Regency, Province of Central Kalimantan. Geographically, it is located in the area of Cempaga upriver.

2. The forest can be categorized as High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF). Based on the survey of a biodiversity survey carried out by the Centre for Orangutan Protection and the Friends of National Park Foundation in June 2007, the forest is habitat to Orangutans and 11 other mammals, and also 34 species of birds.

3. The Regional Government of Kotawaringin Timur has sold the concession of oil palm plantation to PT Windu Nabatindo Lestari and PT Nabatindo Karya Utama.

4. Based on a COP report, Teras Narang as the Governor of Central Kalimantan had ordered the Regent of Kotawaringin Timur to resolve the troubles in July 2007. Based on the report from his team, the Regent decided that the community forest of Tumbang Koling was in status quo. Palm oil companies are prohibited from advancing to the forest that was claimed as traditional land.

5. The Centre for Orangutan Protection built Forest Defender Camp in February 2008 and has carried out protection program ever since with routine patrols. Only 2,000 out of 4,000 hectares of Tumbang Koling community forests that are still in good conditions. COP has replanted the damaged forest to connect the fragmented areas of the habitat. On April 29, 2008, orangutans caught by employees of PT Nabatindo Karya Utama were confiscated by the Central Kalimantan’s BKSDA (The Ministry of Forestry’s Agency of Conservation and Natural Resources) based on the report of the Centre for Orangutan Protection.

6. October 2008, the illegal loggers started to enter the forest area and sold the timber to the nearest palm oil companies. Operations carried out by the Police only reduced the activities for awhile.

7. July - October 2009, while the government is busy to take care of disasters of forest smoke, illegal logging returns to the setting. The palm oil companies then bought the timber logged.

8. RSPO ( is a non-profit association that unite stakeholders from 6 sectors of the palm oil industry. They are the producers of palm oil, the operators, the producers and traders of grocery stock, retailers, banks, and investors; and also environment, social, and conservancy NGOs’ to develop and run the global standard for sustainable palm oil. One of the criteria is the 7.3 criterion on new, responsible plantings, which states that new plantings since November 2005 should not push away primary forests or areas which contain one or more item of high conservational value.