Indonesia's deforestation is a disaster for the planet, it's one of the most biodiverse hotspots on the earth.
Exact rates of deforestation in Indonesia vary, with different figures quoted by researchers and government. However, the World Resources Insitute estimates that the country lost more than 6m hectares of primary forest between 2000 and 2012 - an area half the size of England. Fragmentation of rainforest spells disaster for orangutans and tigers, opening up access for poachers utilising easy access for the illegal wildlife trade and creating trafficking routes.
There are an estimated 6,700 Sumatran orangutans, primarily in the dense rainforests on the north of the island. But their numbers have been severely depleted by forest clearing, largely for palm oil plantations. This has led to apes wandering on to newly established farms, where they are regularly beaten, tortured and killed, or sold into the illegal wildlife trade.
At the current rate of deforestation in Sumatra the UN predicts that 98% of Indonesia's forest will be gone by 2022. _______________________________________
"The Oil Rush" |2009|
Oil on canvas.
Their future is in our hands.
Sumatran Tigers left in the wild may now number as few as 300, with extinction a real possibility.
Habitat destruction and poaching are behind the drastic decline, with a huge demand for tiger parts in traditional Chinese medicine and the rampant clearing of forest for the palm oil industry.
Forest clearing to make way for pulpwood and palm oil plantations was responsible for almost two-thirds of all tiger habitat destruction in Indonesia’s westernmost island of Sumatra from 2009 to 2011, according to analysis from environmental non-profit Greenpeace.
Their report singled out several companies as the biggest culprits, including Indonesia’s two largest producers of pulpwood – Asia Pulp and Paper, or APP, and Asia Pacific Resources International Limited, or APRIL – as well as Singapore-based Wilmar International, the world’s largest refiner of palm oil.
APP and APRIL accounted for almost half of all tiger habitat loss in Sumatra between 2009 and 2011 the report found.
The mass clearing of forest and habitat fragmentation opens up the area for wildlife poaching and trafficking routes, which can spell disaster for this endemic species. The Sumatran tiger is the most morphologically unique subspecies and recent genetic analysis has postulated enough difference to classify this tiger as a distinct species. The Sumatran Tiger could be next to join the Balinese and Javan Tigers in extinction, a devastating loss if we do not act now.
As few as 300 remain in the wild, of which the largest population lives in the Gunung Leuser national park.
The Leuser Ecosystem is a forested mountain area in northern Sumatra that straddles the provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra. It is the only place that the four rare species of Sumatran mega-fauna — orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinos — share the same natural habitat. Currently this unique ecosystem is part of a land grab that sees illegal logging and palm oil plantation expansion destroying this vital refuge.