THE TAPANULI: ON A KNIFE-EDGE
Half a year ago, the orangutans in the Batang Toru forest were recognized as an own species. Overnight they were declared as the most endangered great ape species, with only 800 individuals remaining in the wild. And already today, their fate seems to be sealed: In the heart of their remaining habitat, the construction of a hydropower plant is planned. Now the construction of an access road has started.
Batang Toru is home to the last Tapanuli orangutans, Sumatra-tigers and other endangered species. Amid this valuable ecosystem, a huge hydropower plant is planned, which not only threatens the survival of many plants and animals, but also of the surrounding population. The ecosystem is providing food and fresh water to the people, is protecting against floodings and determines the local weather. Next to the grave effects of the hydropower plant on the river, the numerous roads will cut through the rainforest. A few weeks ago, the construction of the first road has begun. This road is going to fragment the habitat, and therefore the population, of the orangutans. The resulting fragments will have such a small size that the risk of extinction increases tremendously.
With this construction project, the construction company, banks and Indonesian authorities violate company guidelines, national laws and international obligations. As demanded by law, an environmental impact assessment was conducted. But this assessment is severely flawed, as it completely ignores the orangutans in the area and the population living downriver. In addition, the province of North Sumatra is easily able to cover the demand for electricity and still possesses a surplus in capacity of power generation. The largest investor of the new power plant is sitting in China. We are trying to put pressure on the «Bank of China» with a campaign so that they block the loans for the construction until a legitimate environmental impact assessment is conducted. Such a unjustly and unnecessary destruction of such an irreplaceable ecosystem has to be sprevented by all means. The survival of the last Tapanuli orangutans is on knife-edge!