UPDATE: Indonesia’s Rainforests and Orangutans: Hope Emerges Anew!?

oil palm plantationThe Indonesian government has announced that only 180,000 (of 1.8 million) hectares of the much criticized mega-plantation project along the Indonesia-Malaysia border on the island of Borneo are suitable to be converted into oil palm plantations. Recall the “Heart of Borneo” rainforests are some of the last prime habitat for the world's dwindling viable populations of wild orangutans. What makes these statements even more encouraging than previously reported opposition to the project within the Indonesian government is the fact that announcement was made by the Agriculture Minister, who has consistently been one of the most vocal proponents of the project.


Together we have worked hard to battle the forces of biological homogenization. Just when you may have given up, good news can unexpectedly emerge from the unlikeliest sources. If not already chastened by earlier claims that we had achieved a victory on the matter, and my subsequent loss of faith, I would be crowing right now. The very points made by EcoInternet's email action network (YOU!) have been acknowledged. Clearly our campaign has had an impact and massively shifted the terms of debate towards protecting the Heart of Borneo and its rainforests and orangutans.
Besides putting an end to this project's last bits and inevitable attempts to resurrect the notion of destroying millions of year old ancient forests to make cooking oil, there remain dozens of egregious threats to Indonesia's rainforests including Chinese Olympic logging and vastly oversized pulp mills. Another article indicates the global pulp market is crashing because of overcapacity and lack of forests to pulp. And we must not lose site of the importance of stopping destruction, protecting and restoring Indonesia's rainforest fragments found elsewhere.
But largely because of our network, time has been bought for the Heart of Borneo, and for that we should give thanks to Gaia. When the world wakes up to looming ecological collapse, and begins the age of widespread ecological restoration in earnest, there will be more genetic and ecological materials from which to draw. I have learned my lesson – though shall not despair when defending the Earth from seemingly insurmountable evil (or at least bounce back at the next scrap of good news 😉
While I have you attention, it would really help our campaign efforts and stress levels to reach our funding goal and put the fund-raiser behind us. Please, please celebrate yet another positive rainforest development we achieved together by donating to EcoInternet.

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2 Responses

  1. Louis McCarten says:

    One recent conservation innovation that could potentially enable conservationists to protect the fast-vanishing Kalimantan and Sumatra rainforests is that of 'Conservation Concessions' wherein wealthier nations lease land with valuable forest and other ecosystems from economically less well-off countries. I think it is worth Forests.Org time to check it out (assuming it hasn't already done so, but it may have). One thing to keep in mind: a multi-national approach with regards to applying this to Indonesia may well prove necessary as the pace of economic development in the Asia-Pacific region will keep the environmental stakes and economic competition for remaining forest resources high. Too many people in too many countries want to exploit what remains of Indonesia's lowland rainforest resources and they are willing to throw around more capital than the environmental community is used to being able to compete with (many billions of dollars US). For the Conservation Concessions (or virtually any other type of conservation program) in Indonesia, conservationists from around the globe are almost certainly going to have to come together and pool their resources and find ways to attract more capital into conservation.
    “Conservation Concessions” may also prove at least one means of accruing support within Indonesia itself for Indonesian conservation (which usually border on non-protected anyway). It is very important that the national parks that have been threatened with being stripped of protection be reinstated ASAP. For the moment that won't amount to much since, as stated previously, few reserves in Indonesia are even close to being adequately protected. But if proper funding is made available that can change. And that may keep the orangutans swinging in the dipterocarps for future generations to marvel at.

  2. Dr.l Nigel Miles says:

    Conservation Concessions – great idea. At last the ideas of ecological economics, sanity and compassion in one great flow of an idea.
    Keep it up and hope will spring eternal

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