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Say No To Palm Oil - Protect The Leuser Ecosystem
by Tomas DiFiore
Thursday Jan 28th, 2016 3:59 PM
The Leuser Ecosystem is the only place on earth where Sumatran tigers, orangutans, rhinos and elephants all still coexist. Other species include the sun bear, white-handed gibbon, siamang, macaque, loris, lutung, clouded leopard, Asian golden cat, binturong, hornbills, falcons, pheasants, parrots, king cobra, python, turtles and tortoises. Of over 170,000 protected sites worldwide, the Leuser Ecosystem ranked 14th most irreplaceable for mammals in general, and 21st for threatened mammals according to the journal Science. Approximately 50% of Sumatran orangutan habitat is inside conservation areas directly managed by the Ministry of Forestry, and 78% lies within the boundaries of the vast Leuser Ecosystem Conservation Area. All this is under attack by 9 palm oil plantations. A renewed huge global effort has begun....
Zero Deforestation Commitments In The Leuser Ecosystem

Sign petition at end of article by 'Rainforest Action Network' to Protect The Leuser Ecosystem in Aceh, Indoneisa, at the northern tip of the island of Sumatra.

“The Orangutan Capital of the World” as it’s known, (the Tripa peatland – on the western coast of the Island of Sumatra) is of special importance, providing habitat for some of the highest densities of critically endangered Sumatran orangutans in the world. Today there are an estimated 6,600 individual Sumatran orangutans left in the wild. The Sumatran orangutan is at extreme risk of becoming the first great ape to go extinct in the wild. It is estimated that the expansion of palm oil plantations into Tripa has reduced the local orangutan population to as few as 100 individuals. The situation is dire. In the past two decades, roughly 84 percent of Tripa’s forested areas have been lost.”

In November 2014, Rainforest Action Network (RAN) exposed the links between the 'Big Three Buyers' of palm oil and the destruction of the Leuser Ecosystem.

“The Singkil peatland is the largest, deepest and most intact peatland in Aceh, with the deepest peat deposits measuring up to 8 meters in depth and the remaining forest covering over
203,990 acres. This peatland, an area known as the Rawa Singkil Wildlife Reserve and protected under Indonesian law, is increasingly under siege from palm oil expansion and new roads that are being built in a way that will damage the peatland beyond repair.”

“One of the last vestiges of wilderness on the island of Sumatra, for the past three decades, has been heavily ravaged by logging, fires, and conversion to industrial timber and oil palm plantations. The area, known as the Leuser Ecosystem, is today a battleground between business-as-usual interests seeking to mine its forests and a collection of conservationists, local communities…” (see end of article for regional map)

“The Last Place on Earth” by Rainforest Action Network (RAN) shows clearly how some companies that have established “zero-deforestation, zero-conflict” policies … but it also lists more than two dozen plantations that have been established within the boundaries of the Leuser Ecosystem.”

“The destruction of the Leuser Ecosystem will be disastrous for millions of Acehnese people and would push endangered species even closer to the brink of extinction.” (Gemma Tillack, Agribusiness Campaign Director for Rainforest Action Network)

Two reports, one year apart…

1) The Last Place on Earth - Exposing the Threats to the Leuser Ecosystem: A Global Biodiversity Hotspot Deserving Protection: (PDF 3MB and 40 pages)

“The Leuser Ecosystem, is located on the island of Sumatra, and covers over 6.5 million acres and is described as being like nowhere else on Earth. The region boasts some of the highest levels of plant and animal diversity worldwide, with at least 105 mammal species, 382 bird species, and 95 reptile and amphibian species.”

View 15 stunning photos of the Leuser Ecosystem – forests, tigers, elephants, rhinos, orangutans and more!

2) The November 2015 RAN report; titled “The Last Place on Earth: Tracking Progress and New Opportunities to Protect the Leuser Ecosystem” - cites evidence of continued clearance by palm oil growers supplying palm oil to mills in the region. It highlights Wilmar International, Musim Mas Group and Golden Agri Resources, dubbed the 'Big Three Buyers' of palm oil currently at risk of sourcing from the region.”

Another article at Common Dreams, gives a detailed summary of the RAN report: “Rampant Plantation Expansion Devastates Deep Peatlands and Major Sumatran Elephant Habitat; Fate of Region Depends on Collective Action by Industry Giants and Local, National Governments (November 2015)”

Consumer goods manufacturing companies that buy palm oil are at risk of purchasing conflict palm oil grown in the Leuser Ecosystem. The report lists what it terms the Snack Food 20 – companies who have not adopted and implemented responsible palm oil procurement policies. The list includes PepsiCo, Kraft Foods Group, The H.J. Heinz Company, The Campbell Soup Company, Hillshire Brands, Grupo Bimbo, Nissin Foods and Toyo Suisan Kaisha Ltd.

Boycott these companies and their products!

As always, author Annette Gartland presents the situation at great length and detail, in,
“Climate Conference: Environmentalists Urge Action To End Forest Destruction In Indonesia”
By Annette Gartland - December 2, 2015

“The Leuser Ecosystem Alliance says the Ecosystem supports the lives and livelihoods of more than four million people, and protects them from environmental disasters. In Paris, at the COP21, the alliance launched a report entitled “Leuser at a Crossroads”, which states that the natural forests of Leuser are still being cleared, and the integrity of the ecosystem is at risk of collapsing. If decisive action is not taken immediately the impacts on the entire ecosystem and the surrounding population will be disastrous and irreversible, the report states.”

“At least two million hectares of land burned in the recent fires, releasing millions of tonnes of carbon pollution into the atmosphere. The added burden on the global environment is huge, and it is also delivering a devastating blow to Indonesia’s biodiversity, much of which is already on the edge of extinction. It is essential that the world helps Indonesia to prevent future fires by blocking the drainage canals in peat swamps, which are lowering the water-table. Wet peat does not burn.”

The Leuser Ecosystem Alliance is comprised of Forum Konservasi Leuser, Hutan Alam dan Lingkungan Aceh, the Orangutan Information Centre, the PanEco Foundation, the Sumatran Orangutan Society, and Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari.

Please read The Leuser Ecosystem Alliance Report: “Leuser at a Crossroads”
(PDF 11 MB and just 7 brilliant pages)

“The Leuser Ecosystem is both spectacular and globally unique. Ranging from coastal mangrove swamp to high altitude cloud forests, it is one of the largest continuous expanses of forest in Asia, and the only place in the world that is home to Sumatran orangutans, tigers, rhinoceros, elephants, clouded leopards and sun bears. It provides vital resources and services for the human population that lives within and around it, and has huge potential for tourism, research, carbon trading and other income generating opportunities.”

“Located at the northern end of the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, 85% of the Leuser Ecosystem falls within the province of Aceh with the remainder in North Sumatra province. Covering a total of over 2.6 million hectares it mostly consists of rainforest from the sea level coastal peat swamps of Tripa, Singkil and Kluet up to the summit of Mt Leuser at over 3,000m. It also encompasses large areas of lowland rainforest as well as beaches, mangrove forests, meadows, heathlands, lakes and rivers, and crucial transition zones between the main habitat types.”

In RAN's latest report, “The Last Place On Earth: Tracking Progress And New Opportunities To Protect The Leuser Ecosystem”, RAN says the Indonesian Palm Oil Pledge (IPOP) companies must work with suppliers and government to establish a moratorium on the destruction of rainforests and peatlands in the Leuser Ecosystem. (PDF 5 MB and 32 pages) … a must read!

Wildlife Asia is teaming up with 'Racing Extinction', Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS) and Rainforest Action Network (RAN) to launch Racing Extinction in the Leuser Ecosystem, a bold mission to shine a global spotlight on the destruction of the last place on Earth where orangutans, rhinos, tigers, and elephants still live together in the wild, and produce the tools that will enable action to save it.

Their goal of raising fifty thousand dollars (indiegogo campaign) was recently celebrated!

Add your name! Join Rainforest Action Network in calling on palm oil companies to immediately halt the destruction of the Leuser Ecosystem.

“In Racing Extinction, a team of artists and activists exposes the hidden world of extinction with never-before-seen images that will change the way we see the planet. Two worlds drive extinction across the globe, potentially resulting in the loss of half of all species. The international wildlife trade creates bogus markets at the expense of creatures that have survived on this planet for millions of years. And the other surrounds us, hiding in plain sight...”

Where to see the film “Racing Extinction”

Racing Extinction (2015) has already become the top must see movie in almost all Asia movie theaters. Here's a really well written review!

Gunung Leuser National Park is one of the two remaining habitats for Sumatran Orangutans. “In 1971, Herman Rijksen established the Ketambe Research Station, a specially designated research area for the orangutan. Other mammals found in the park are the Sumatran elephant, Sumatran tiger, Sumatran rhinoceros, siamang, Sumatran serow, sambar deer and leopard cat.”

What does poaching in the Leuser Ecosystem look like? Here is a sensitive pictorial: “What hit me hardest was seeing the extent of the elephant’s struggle, so clear from the scene of battered vegetation and splintered trees. How long had this elephant thrashed around trying to break free from the tightening rope? When did its panic give way to exhaustion? How long did it take to die? And were other elephants there to see it?”

Aceh citizens sue government to save Leuser Ecosystem – January 22, 2016

“The filing of a class-action lawsuit in Jakarta, moves the bitter fight over the future of one of Sumatra’s last intact rainforests into the courts. Registered by nine Indonesian citizens from the country’s westernmost province of Aceh, the suit is lodged three months after a warning letter sent to the home affairs ministry went unanswered, and challenges the legality of a set of zoning laws passed by the Aceh parliament at the end of 2013. Those land-use laws, known collectively as a spatial plan, were ordered to be revised by the home ministry back in February of 2014. More than two years later, the unrevised spatial plan remains in force. This case is clear-cut.”

Where is Aceh? Where is Gunung Leuser National Park and the Leuser Ecosystem?

Lowland forests and carbon-rich peat bogs, the most vital landscapes in Southeast Asia’s last great swath of intact rainforest, are the most at risk of clearing by oil palm firms in the 2.6 million hectare block of Sumatran forests and peatlands known as the Leuser Ecosystem, the only place on earth where Sumatran tigers, orangutans, rhinos and elephants all still coexist.

“Other species include the sun bear, white-handed gibbon, siamang, macaque, loris, lutung, clouded leopard, Asian golden cat, binturong, hornbills, falcons, pheasants, parrots, king cobra, python, turtles and tortoises. Of over 170,000 protected sites worldwide, the Leuser Ecosystem ranked 14th most irreplaceable for mammals in general, and 21st for threatened mammals according to the journal Science. Approximately 50% of Sumatran orangutan habitat is inside conservation areas directly managed by the Ministry of Forestry, and 78% lies within the boundaries of the vast Leuser Ecosystem Conservation Area.”

PIC Two Orangutan Ecological Zones

Kids, tell your parents! “Today, youth activists in schools around the world are taking action to cut conflict palm oil from our lives,” said Elle O’Brien from GS Green Generation, a group of student activists from the Green School in Bali, Indonesia.

“Kids Cut Palm Oil is an international group of school students who want to see an end to the destruction of our forests. We want this destruction to stop killing critically endangered animals. We want the destruction to stop because it is killing people, and leading to tremendous global carbon emissions that have never been seen before on this scale.

“We know how to stop it. We can stop it. And we will stop it. We can challenge this by becoming educated on the issue and boycotting products containing conflict palm oil.”

Visit “Kids Cut Palm Oil” on Facebook, and support their vision for a better world.

Give your support to on-the-ground efforts to protect the natural world. Help enable 'No Kill, No Cut' protection for endangered national parks and world heritage sites with Global Park Defense:

“The next three years is focused on wildlife habitat protection, removal of illegal plantations and logging operations, SMART ranger patrols and lobbying and legal actions to enforce Leuser Ecosystem’s existing protection as a national park and UNESCO World Heritage site.”

“We provide funding and technology for a proven methodology for park transformation to achieve ‘No Kill, No Cut’. Global Conservation works alongside park authorities with local communities to implement a Global Park Defense - border demarcation, informant rewards system, advanced surveillance and communications and SMART Ranger Patrols to enable national parks to combat and eliminate illegal poaching, logging and mining.”

Sign the petition (link provided below) by 'Rainforest Action Network' to Protect The Leuser Ecosystem.

“The people of Aceh have long fought to protect the Leuser Ecosystem as it provides them with clean water for downstream irrigation, agriculture and food production and helps avoid soil erosion, flooding, landslides and pest outbreaks. The Leuser Ecosystem is also home to the densest population of orangutans remaining anywhere in the world and is the only place where orangutans, tigers, elephants, rhinos and sun bears live in the same forest together.”

“... am writing to let you know that people all across the world understand the value of Aceh’s forests to the people and communities who live there and to encourage you to nominate the Leuser Ecosystem as a new UNESCO World Heritage Site.”

To be delivered to Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of Indonesia, Zulfiki Hasan, Minister of Forestry, Zaini Abdullah, Governor of Aceh, Ir. Iman Soedradjat, Giovanni Seritella, His Excellency Juniarta Sastrawan, Stig Traavik, Martin Billie Herman, Elina Dakash, UNESCO World Heritage Center, and World Bank Headquarters. (RAN)

Tomas DiFiore

By invoking the 'Copyright Disclaimer' Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use."

§ 107. Limitations on exclusive rights- Fair use: Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

If you or anyone wish to use copyrighted material from this article for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Tomas DiFiore
“Saying No To Palm Oil”

Aceh, Boycott Palm Oil, Conflict Palm Oil, elephants, Forests, Last Place on Earth, Leuser Ecosystem, orangutans, Palm Oil plantations, peatlands, Racing Extinction, rhinos, Sumatra, tigers,
by Tomas DiFiore Thursday Jan 28th, 2016 3:59 PM

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