Indonesia's Rainforests and Orangutans Gravely Threatened

Oil Palm Threatens Indonesia's Rainforests and Orangutans

Action Alert

The alert can be found at:

Chinese funded development a ploy to access rainforest timbers; will devastate Borneo's biodiversity, regional sustainability and largest remaining wild orangutan population.

By Rainforest Portal, a project of Ecological Internet - February 20, 2006

Rainforest picture Natural ancient rainforests are too valuable to be replaced by oil palm plantations (link)

Indonesia plans to cut a 2,000 kilometer long, five kilometer wide swathe through one of the world's largest remaining areas of pristine rainforest to create a massive oil palm plantation. The project would destroy two million hectares of ancient rainforest in West and East Kalimantan, traversing almost the entire border with Malaysia, and slicing through three national parks. These remote rainforests on the island of Borneo are home to countless species of rare birds, plants and mammals including the largest remaining wild orangutan population.

This Chinese-funded "agricultural development" is almost certainly a thinly veiled ruse to access timber. Several studies have found the region is too mountainous to support effective palm oil farming, and is economically unviable as it would cost the country billions of dollars a year. In the past many supposed oil palm developers have abandoned projects after completing rainforest clearance. Indonesia has huge land areas of abandoned, unproductive palm oil plantations and degraded forest areas that would be suitable for oil palm development.

The project would be environmentally devastating to Borneo, a hotspot for biodiversity. Palm oil plantations - which completely clear the rainforests and are biologically depauperate - are the number one enemy of orangutans and all wildlife in Borneo. Orangutans need vast areas of interconnected forest to survive, and this ill-conceived project would speed up their extinction. According to Friends of the Earth, the business as usual palm oil trade will cause the extinction of the orangutan within 12 years. Further, these rainforests encompass over half of Borneo's watersheds, and their clearing would damage clean water sources for much of Indonesian Borneo.

Indonesia is already losing two million hectares of rainforest every year. It is vital to Indonesia and the World's ecological sustainability that no more ancient primary rainforests are cleared for oil palm. Let the Indonesian President know he must cancel the Kalimantan project, and that new oil palm plantations should be built only in previously cleared and unused areas.



Indonesia's Rainforests and Orangutans Still Gravely Threatened

By Rainforest Portal, a project of Ecological Internet, Inc. April 6, 2006

TAKE ACTION Initial progress must be consolidated, and further rainforest protections established

The Indonesian government recently announced it was abandoning plans to destroy 1.8 million hectares of rainforest by establishing oil palm plantations in prime orangutan habitat. While political maneuvering continues by those supporting the project, this strategic victory is encouraging and important. We believe the Indonesian government should be taken at its word, even as we work to consolidate this initial victory and to otherwise protest the state of Indonesia's rainforests which are in dire crisis. Ecological Internet asks that you send the Indonesian President a congratulatory email making further policy requests. It is important the project cancellation is formalized and permanently laid to rest, and the ancient rainforests that were threatened are given permanent protected status that is effectively enforced. Please also express support for the Indonesian government's recent preliminary announcement of its participation in the "Heart of Borneo" tri- country conservation initiative which aims to preserve one of the most important centers of biological diversity in the world, covering approximately 220,000 km2 of rainforests and numerous wildlife species including the critically endangered orangutan. To be maximally effective the rainforest movement must acknowledge progress, however tentative and inadequate, even as we intensify our efforts.

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FOREST CONSERVATION NEWS TODAY European Oil Palm Market Causing Indonesian Rainforest Loss

Rainforest Portal a project of Ecological Internet, Inc. -- Rainforest Portal -- Rainforest Newsfeed

April 13, 2006 OVERVIEW & COMMENTARY by Dr. Glen Barry,

Below is an important update on the global campaign to protect Indonesia's ancient rainforests from unfettered oil palm plantation development. It comes from WALHI (Friends of the Earth Indonesia), an important Indonesian NGO. Their new report importantly links the rapidly expanding European market for oil palm for biofuels (which Ecological Internet was amongst the first to publicize) and other products with wholesale Indonesian rainforest destruction from oil palm plantations. They are demanding - as is Ecological Internet in our recent alert at - that the Indonesian government officially cancel the proposed mega oil palm plantation along the Malaysian border that threatens the orangutan and other species with extinction. Earlier loose assurances that the project will not proceed must be followed by formal government statements, and the area given permanent protected status that is enforced. Please continue to take action on this important issue. g.b.


Title: European hunger for palm oil triggers expansion of plantations Source: Copyright 2006, Friends of the Earth Indonesia (WALHI) Date: April 12, 2006


Friends of the Earth Netherlands * Sawit Watch * Friends of the Earth Indonesia (WALHI) * Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland *


JAKARTA (INDONESIA), LONDON (UK), AMSTERDAM (THE NETHERLANDS), 12 April 2006 -- A new report released today shows how the Indonesian government might develop up to 3 million hectares of oil palm plantations on the island of Borneo, threatening wildlife and local livelihoods to cater for international demand for cheap palm oil. [1]

One of the justifications given for this huge plantation project is the increasing international demand for palm oil to be used in food, feed and biofuels.

The report reveals how earlier plans to develop a 2 million hectare plantation on the Indonesian side of the border with Malaysia, are not yet off the table. Indonesia's initial proposals to develop the border area had met with international protest.

The Indonesian president Yudhoyono acknowledged there were conservation concerns to be taken into account. But the Indonesian Ministry of Public Works appears to have responded to this in January 2006 by simply enlarging the area defined as the "border zone". In this broader area, up to 3 million hectares of oil palm could be planted, according to the Ministry.

The project still threatens mayhem, damaging wildlife and the livelihoods of local people in the Kalimantan region. Friends of the Earth Indonesia (WALHI) and local palm oil organisation Sawit Watch ('Oilpalm Watch') are calling on the Indonesian government to officially cancel the border mega-plantation plan.

The new report reveals that the area deemed suitable for oil palm includes forests used by thousands of people who depend on them for their livelihoods. In new larger border zone, a special regulation (Presidential Decree No. 36/2005) would allow the government to take land away from communities that do not want oil palm plantations in the name of 'public interest'.

The report shows that those communities who are aware of the new proposals are strongly opposed to the plans.

Evidence shows that in the last decade, many areas have been deforested supposedly to make way for oil palm plantations but have then been abandoned after the timber has been sold. In East Kalimantan alone, 3 million hectares of forest disappeared for oil palm concessions. Of those, only 300.000 hectares have actually been planted with oil palm.

Sixty per cent of the forests converted into oil palm plantations in 2004-2005 were still good forests, despite the commitment made by the Indonesian government in 2000 that no more forests would be converted to palm and pulp plantations.

"Communities should not be forced to change their livelihoods simply for the benefit of oil palm companies and consumers overseas. They have not been consulted on these proposals and certainly have not agreed to abandon their land," said Rudy Lumuru of Sawit Watch, in the Netherlands to present the report.

'European importing countries should not increase their imports of palm oil until environmental and social issues are solved,' added Anne Van Schaik of Friends of the Earth Netherlands. 'This also means we should be very hesitant to embrace palm oil as a biomass-solution to the current energy crisis. To start with, companies and governments should ensure that palm oil used in food and feedstock is in line with the criteria laid out by the so-called Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil as soon as possible," said Van Schaik.


IN INDONESIA: Sawit Watch: Rudy Lumuru + 62 812 110 1016 Friends of the Earth Indonesia (WALHI) Rully Syumanda + 62 813 199 66998

IN EUROPE: Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie) + 31 20
5507333 Friends of the Earth in London: Alison Dilworth + 44 20
7566 4084 or + 44 7952 993283


[1] The report "The Kalimantan Border Oil Palm Mega Project" can be downloaded as pdf from and from


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