Protect Aceh's orangutan forest!

Face of orangutan child Orangutans need intact forests to survive
101,139 supporters

End of campaign: Oct 17, 2014

"I live and work at the last remaining place on earth where orangutans, rhinos, elephants and tigers live together in freedom. This unique habitat will be destroyed, however, unless our president responds to our call and steps in to save it", Indonesian environmentalist Rudi Putra says. Please speak out for Aceh's wildlife.

Call to action

To: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, Minister of Forestry Zulkifli Hasan, and Governor of Aceh Zaini Abdullah

Implement lasting protection for the rainforests of Aceh, Indonesia.

Read letter

“I live and work at the last remaining place on earth, where endangered orangutans, rhinos, elephants and tigers peacefully live together in freedom.

This habitat however will be destroyed – unless our president responds to our call and steps in to save this unique habitat", Indonesian environmentalist Rudi Putra says.

"Right now, a local governor wants to allow mining and palm oil companies to destroy areas the size of a million football fields in one of Indonesia's most pristine and untouched rainforests! And the National Forestry Minister seems to allow him to do so, as long as the Indonesian President does not step in to stop the plan to kill the orangutans,” Putra warns.

“The president likes to see himself a conservationist. Therefore, we need to tell him that his green reputation as well as a possible future position with the United Nations are on the line if he does not act accordingly. We have to act fast – please sign the urgent petition and tell everyone about this deadly threat to our unique rainforests. If one million people sign this petition within the next three days, I will make sure the President hears our call.”

President Yudhoyono extended a nationwide moratorium for another two years, protecting the rainforests from deforestation. Aceh however is a semi-autonomous province and the reigning Governor Zaini Abdullah has far-reaching powers. We are therefore collecting signatures and will not stop until the rainforests of Aceh and the orangutans living there are protected by a firm agreement.

Rudi Putra, Indonesia. Winner of the “Future for Nature” Award 2013

Letter

To: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, Minister of Forestry Zulkifli Hasan, and Governor of Aceh Zaini Abdullah

Dear Mr. President, Forest Minister and Governor

As concerned citizens, we urge you to reject the plan to cut down protected rainforests in Aceh. Indonesia's unique rainforests are a global treasure and we encourage you to develop a plan that prioritises sustainable development, and that protects this fragile ecosystem and the animals living there.

Yours sincerely,

Topic

The issue – rainforest on our dinner tables and in our fuel tanks

At 66 million tons annually, palm oil is the most commonly produced vegetable oil. Its low world market price and properties that lend themselves to processed foods have led the food industry to use it in half of all supermarket products. Palm oil can be found in frozen pizzas, biscuits and margarine, as well as body creams, soaps, makeup, candles and detergents.

Few people realize that almost half of the palm oil imported into the EU is used as biofuel. Since 2009, the mandatory blending of biofuels into motor vehicle fuels has been a major cause of deforestation.

Oil palm plantations currently cover more than 27 million hectares of the Earth’s surface. Forests and human settlements have been destroyed and replaced by “green deserts” containing virtually no biodiversity on an area the size of New Zealand.

The impact – suffering and death in producer countries, climate havoc

The warm, humid climate of the tropics offers perfect growth conditions for oil palms. Day after day, huge tracts of rainforest in Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa are being bulldozed or torched to make room for more plantations, releasing vast amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. As a consequence, Indonesia – the world’s largest producer of palm oil – temporarily surpassed the United States in terms of greenhouse gas emissions in 2015. With their CO2 and methane emissions, palm oil-based biofuels actually have three times the climate impact of traditional fossil fuels.

Palm oil is not only bad for the climate: As their forest habitat is cleared, endangered species such as the orangutan, Borneo elephant and Sumatran tiger are being pushed closer to extinction. Smallholders and indigenous people who have inhabited and protected the forest for generations are often brutally driven from their land. In Indonesia, more than 700 land conflicts are related to the palm oil industry. Human rights violations are everyday occurrences, even on supposedly “sustainable” and “organic” plantations.

As consumers, we are largely unaware of these broader issues, yet our daily palm oil consumption also impacts our health: refined palm oil contains large amounts of harmful fatty acid esters that are known to damage DNA and cause cancer.

The solution – a revolution on our dinner tables and in our fuel tanks

Only 70,000 orangutans still roam the forests of Southeast Asia, yet the EU’s biofuels policy is pushing them to the brink of extinction. Every new plantation on Borneo is destroying a further piece of their habitat. Stepping up the pressure on policymakers is a must if we want to save our tree-dwelling kin. Apart from that, however, there is still a lot we can do in day-to-day life.

Follow these simple tips to recognize, avoid and combat palm oil:

  1. Enjoy a home-cooked meal: Use your imagination: why not try almond-coconut-pear biscuits? Or pizza with potato and rosemary? A meal cooked from fresh ingredients beats processed foods containing palm oil every time. Oils such as sunflower, olive, rapeseed or flaxseed are ideal for cooking and baking.
  2. Read labels: As of December 2014, labeling regulations in the EU require food products to clearly indicate that they contain palm oil. However, in the case of non-food items such as cosmetics and cleaning products, a wide range of chemical names may still be used to hide the use of palm oil. A quick check of your favorite search engine will turn up palm oil-free alternatives, however.
  3. Remember that the customer is king: Ask your retailers for palm oil-free products. Write product manufacturers and ask them why they aren’t using domestic oils. Companies can be quite sensitive to issues that give their products a bad name, so inquiring with sales staff and contacting manufacturers can make a real difference. Public pressure and increased awareness of the problem have already prompted some producers to stop using palm oil.
  4. Sign petitions and write your elected representatives: Online campaigns put pressure on policymakers responsible for biofuels and palm oil imports. Have you already signed all of Rainforest Rescue’s petitions?
  5. Speak out: Protest marches and creative action on the street raise public and media awareness of the issue, which in turn steps up the pressure on policymakers.
  6. Leave your car at home: Whenever you can, walk, ride a bicycle or use public transport.
  7. Be informed and inform others: Big Business and governments would like us to believe that biofuels are good for the climate and that oil palm plantations are sustainable. Spread the word – share this information with your family and friends and encourage them to rethink their consumption habits. It’s in our hands!