THE TROPICAL RAINFOREST IS BURNING – NOT ONLY ALONG THE AMAZON
The tropical rainforest is being recklessly burned to the ground all over the world. The repercussions are fatal! Human’s and animal’s basis of life is being irreversibly destroyed. Sumatra, the home of the Sumatran and Tapanuli orangutan is currently threatened by large fires.
One third of Indonesia’s sources of fire were reported on the island of Sumatra. Fire raged the most in the province of Riau in eastern Sumatra. Dozens of schools in Riau were forced to close because of the dangerously poor air quality. Many fires were also recorded in the province of Jambi. Healthy and fully-grown orangutans from our rescue and rehabilitation station are released into the wild in our reintroduction site in the Bukit Tigapuluh National park in the province of Jambi. Until now the situation has luckily not proved dangerous for the orangutans in Jambi. It is however being monitored carefully by the people of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, SOCP. Our Co-Managing Director Irena Wettstein, who was on the island recently, reported thick blankets of smoke that complicate breathing in Medan (around 1000 kilometres away from Jambi).
That the situation on Sumatra is grave, is evident by the 4000 sources of fire that were recorded by satellites solely in the month of September. Many blazes were caused by illegal deforestation by means of the slash and burn technique. This technique is banned in all of Indonesia. However, laws are often not abided by. Corruption and unfavourable structures of power complicate conviction and sentencing considerably.
The tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia are being pressurized by the constant rise in demand for palm oil, but also timber, rubber and infrastructural projects. In Indonesia and Malaysia, the conversion of rainforest into palm oil plantations poses an enormous risk as these two countries cover 80% of the global demand for palm oil. Devastating blazes have been sighted especially on Sumatra and the adjacent island Borneo – the places where the last living orangutans are native to! This is why we are committed to protecting the rainforests and advise everybody to consume palm oil consciously.