Tag Archives: orangutans

Latest article on the Palm Oil threat to the Leuser Ecosystem

A recent summary of the current challenges facing Leuser, where I went 16 years ago to study orangutans, then watched their home being desecrated by the relentless chainsaws.

“Right now, huge swaths of vital forest habitat in Indonesia are being cut, cleared and burnt to the ground to make way for industrial-scale palm oil inyourpalm480pxplantations. These illegal operations produce a cheap supply of palm oil to a voracious international market that is growing at an exponential rate. Demand for this vegetable oil has sky-rocketed in the past decade as palm oil companies have managed to keep consumers in the dark about the hideous crimes being committed against humanity, endangered creatures and the planet.

I hope I have managed to impart even a sliver of the exceptional uniqueness and immense beauty that is embodied by this special place. Only then can one begin to fully understand the weight of loss that is sustained with every single fallen tree. Yet the true measure of this problem extends far beyond the initial insult of deforestation and spreads like a virus into lives of hundreds of innocent people and animals alike. ” ~Heather Rally

Note especially Michelle Desilets’ comment: “May I suggest readers have a look at campaigns by groups such as the Rainforest Action Network and the Union of Concerned Scientists to urge manufacturers and retailers to source only deforestation-free, conflict-free Certified Sustainable Palm Oil.”   This problem is so big and so pervasive that a handful of us tree-huggers refusing Oreos is going to barely make a dent – the companies involved won’t budge without a large, organized push.  So by all means, reduce your complicity, but don’t forget to organize and collaborate for maximum effect.

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Evidence of illegal logging activity detected by conservation drones in Gunung Leuser National Park

Michelle Y. Merrill, Ph.D.:

More logging in Leuser – ouch! At least the Gunung Leuser National Park officials seem to have given an appropriate response. Here’s hoping those conservation drones can catch more illegal loggers before they do much damage.

Originally posted on :

The ConservationDrones Asia Team and the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) flew two separate missions over a part of the Gunung Leuser National Park (Indonesia) between two time periods barely a few months apart. In these two drone images you can see clear evidence of illegal logging within the national park. The loggers even left a strip of forest on the river bank to conceal the patch of logged forest from view. These images were given to park officials who subsequently acted to stop the logging activities.

Before

After

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Conservation Drones?

When I was slogging through the swamps and slipping down the mud-slicked trails of Sumatra, following orangutans, I often daydreamed about how the right tech would make the job so much easier.  I even started to write a novel about it.

Now one of those gizmos I so wished for is a reality: small aircraft with cameras that can get above the canopy to see what’s going on up there from a much better vantage than on the ground.  And a colleague and friend, Serge Wich, who worked in Zaire and then on Sumatra at roughly the same time as I did (but always much more skillfully and proficiently over much longer timeframes), got some support from National Geographic to set the things up.  Here’s some video of my buddy Serge Wich talking to Nat Geo reporters:

and here’s a TED talk by his co-conspiritor at ConservationDrones.org, Lian Pin Koh:

Great job, team!

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News from Indonesia’s Forests

Visiting Mongabay.com/Mongabay.org is always an emotional roller-coaster.  The reporting is great, and what they have to say is… often not so great.  The latest news out of Indonesia (especially Sumatra) is a typically mixed bag.

Despite moratorium, Indonesia now has world’s highest deforestation rate :-(

Observational Learning in Sumatran Orangutans

Sumatran Orangutans, in lowland/wetland “protected” forest, just before the forest there was illegally, selectively logged in 1999.

ConAgra adopts greener palm oil policy :-)

Elephant poaching soars as Sumatran forests turn into plantations :-(

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Depleted forests force Borneo Orangutans to nest in oil palm estates

Our furry orange friends are just trying to find a place to sleep for the night… they’ve had to go from secure and cozy places where they could make a nice bed for themselves, to the orangutan equivalent of sleeping under a bridge.

Depleting forest forces Orangutans to nest in oil palm estates

Posted on July 1, 2014, Tuesday | Borneo Post Online

SANDAKAN: A new landmark study based in Sabah’s east coast has shown that orangutans in Kinabatangan have no choice but to nest in oil palm plantations as they travel from one forest patch to another.

“These findings have long term implications for the oil palm industry and those working in conservation as we have to look at a larger landscape rather than concentrate only on forested areas,” said Dr Marc Ancrenaz, the lead author of the findings published in Oryx, the international journal of conservation…

“Where were these missing orangutans. We knew they could not have just disappeared from the small forested areas of lower Kinabatangan. So we looked outside the forested areas and what we found, truly shocked us,” said Ancrenaz who is also scientific director of HUTAN-KOCP, in a statement yesterday.

Ancrenaz said the researchers found that orangutan nests within the oil palm landscape within small patches of trees, even single trees.

“The orangutans are not adapting to the oil palm and are using them to find other forested areas. This means the palm oil industry now has a very important role to play to sustain the long term survival of the orangutan population living in Kinabatangan and other agricultural lands in Sabah.”

The study also found the orangutans only used the oil palm plants to nest when they had no access to native trees and usually did not go too far inside with 90 percent detected within 100 metres of the forest edge, although it did find that some had roamed further inside.

Read more:  http://www.theborneopost.com/2014/07/01/depleting-forest-forces-orangutans-to-nest-in-oil-palm-estates/#ixzz36ByM977S

 

 

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How Many Products with Palm Oil Do You Use in a Day?

I think… I hope… I’m doing a bit better than Lael Goodman, the author of this post: “How Many Products with Palm Oil Do I Use in a Day?

But I don’t really have a kitchen where I am now, so what oil is used at the hawker centers and cafeterias where I mostly eat is not something I’ve even begun to investigate.  And yeah, even the organic brands of toothpaste, soap, shampoo, etc. are frequently made with palm oil.  Here’s some of Lael’s daily guilt trip:

…But even though I know that palm oil is ubiquitous in everyday products, I’ve never assessed its role in my life. That was, until yesterday.

What I found was astonishing, even to me: I use palm oil and its derivatives every single day. Multiple times a day…

In just one day, I used at least twelve products that contain or might contain palm oil:

[1] Kellogg’s Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Limited Edition Cereal: Chocolatey Almond: hydrogenated palm kernel oil, palm kernel oil
[2] P&G’s Head and Shoulders shampoo: sodium lauryl sulfate*, sodium laureth sulfate*
[3] L’Oréal’s Garnier Fructis conditioner: cetyl alcohol*
[4] Unilever’s Dove white beauty bar soap: stearic acid*, sodium palmitate*
[5] Unilever’s Vaseline body lotion: stearic acid*, cetyl alcohol*, glyceryl stearate*, glycerin*
[6] Galderma’s Cetaphil moisturizer with sunscreen: glyceryl stearate*
[7] Colgate-Palmolive’s Colgate toothpaste: sodium lauryl sulfate*
[8] Revlon’s Almay mascara: stearic acid*
[9] Daily vitamins: vegetable magnesium stearate*, vegetable stearic acid*
[10] J.M. Smucker’s Jif natural peanut butter: palm oil
[11] Pfizer’s Chapstick lip balm: cetyl alcohol*, tocopheryl linoleate*
[12] Unilever’s Pond’s cold cream: cetyl alcohol*

It’s easy to think that because I don’t regularly frequent McDonald’s or Dunkin’ Donuts that my palm oil use is limited. But I can see now that palm oil is pervasive in both my professional and my personal life.

Luckily, a lot of companies whose brands I use have already begun stepping up to the challenge by making commitments to ensure that the palm oil they use is free of deforestation and peatland destruction. I know my Colgate-Palmolive toothpaste,  L’Oréal conditioner, Kellogg’s cereal, and Unilever soap, lotion, and cream are made by companies who have made this public commitment, making my daily routine a little more sustainable.

Click here to send an email to other companies urging them to make a deforestation and peat-free palm oil commitment.

from http://blog.ucsusa.org/how-many-products-with-palm-oil-do-i-use-in-a-day?

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Good News (at last): A Palm Oil Victory

Re-posting from forestheroes.org

Why all the fuss about palm oil to begin with? Well if you’re new to the campaign and this blog, the palm oil industry is currently one of the most environmentally destructive on the planet. The rapid spread of palm oil plantations is responsible for rampant deforestation, endangered species habitat loss, and severe climate and local air pollution. Though there are now hopes that today’s announcement could begin to change that.

Wilmar’s new “No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation Policy” would, if implemented, catalyze a wholesale change in how palm oil is produced, and where plantations are sited.

So what exactly does the policy entail? Basically, it calls for numerous provisions to change the way commodities are sourced:

  • No Deforestation: No more cutting down the rainforest for agricultural production.
  • No Exploitation: Protect the rights of workers and communities, including the right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent.
  • Protects High Carbon Stock landscape: Including peatlands of any depth.
  • Protects High Conservation Value forests: No more clearing of forests that are habitat for endangered species, such as orangutans, Sumatran tigers, elephants, and rhinos.

Up until now, the largely unregulated — and rapidly growing — industry has laid waste to more than 30,000 square miles of tropical rainforests in Indonesia and Malaysia alone. Palm oil is a $50 billion a year commodity that winds up in roughly half of all consumer goods for sale, including snacks and sweets and soaps and detergents and countless other packaged goods. Over the past decade alone, palm oil imports to the U.S. have increased nearly fivefold. The incredible loss of richly biodiverse rainforests to clearcutting also threatens the 400 or so remaining Sumatran tigers, as well as orangutans, elephants, and rhinos. Not to mention the tens of millions of people who depend on the forests to survive. Then there’s the climate impact of stripping the world of some of its most important carbon sinks. Factor in forest loss, and Indonesia is the world’s third largest source of global warming pollution.