This week over five thousand colorful events are taking place in communities across the country to celebrate National Food Day, a project of Center for Science and the Public Interest (CSPI). National Food Day mobilizes people at every step of the food system and aims to promote healthier diets, support local and organic farms, reduce hunger and improve access to food, end factory farming to protect animal rights and the environment and support fair working conditions for farm workers.
Given the current state of our food system and it’s reliance on large scale industrial agriculture, there is a lot of work to be done in each of these realms. In honor of Food Day I want to highlight some examples of the inspiring work our allies are doing in the world to break America’s addiction to packaged, processed, refined foods that almost all contain Conflict Palm Oil - an ingredient that symbolizes our broken food system.
Just last week on World Food Day National Geographic launched an eight month series dedicated to investigating the challenges and solutions to feeding everyone on our planet. It’s short launch video packs a punch, driving home the point that even though the world's population will likely increase 35 percent by 2050, the solution is not necessarily growing more food! Instead National Geographic recommends a powerful 5 point plan:
1) We need to stop cutting down forests for agribusiness (according to the Climate Land Use Alliance, commercial agriculture drives 71% of tropical rainforest destruction!)
2) We should grow more on the farmland that already exists
3) We must use resources more efficiently (i.e. approximately 80% of our developed water supply goes towards agriculture, the majority of which goes to alfalfa which we feed to dairy cows and beef cattle!)
4) Transition to plant-based diets since meat-intensive diets are not only bad for the environment but feed the demand for cruel industrial animal production
5) Reduce waste (an estimated 25% of food in America is currently wasted according to National Geographic)
Transitioning our families to a plant-based diet is a win-win. It means feeding our kids real food (think organic fruits and veggies and whole grains) that doesn’t come out of a bag or a box, which is exponentially more healthy for our bodies and the planet. It means decreasing the likelihood that our kids are consuming Conflict Palm Oil and unwittingly pushing orangutans to the brink of extinction. And finally, a plant-based diet translates into consumption of fewer animal products which have a huge climate footprint and drive gross human and animal rights abuses.
It’s reassuring to explore the landscape of solutions-oriented work happening in the world today - I am so inspired by the excellent work of people like the Food Babe, Andrew Wilder and Melissa Lanz, who are all using creative approaches to promote eating real food. I met Vani Hari, aka the Food Babe, at ShiftCon earlier this month. She is a gutsy, relentless food activist hot on the trail to investigate what’s really in our food, and pressures companies to remove toxic ingredients threatening public health. And she wins victory after victory! Melissa is a mother of two who inspires millions of Americans to stop relying on microwave dinners and packaged foods for convenience. She works to redefine the dinner table by encouraging people to stick with twenty fresh, seasonal ingredients each week. Andrew hosts October Unprocessed, challenging people to pledge to go the entire month of October without consuming any processed foods. His brilliant cooking oil comparison chart fittingly places palm oil at the bottom of the rung for it’s devastating environmental impacts.
As Michael Pollan sagely writes in Food Rules:
“After spending several years trying to answer the supposedly incredibly complicated question of how we should eat in order to be maximally healthy, I discovered the answer was shockingly simple: eat real food, not too much of it, and more plants than meat. Or, put another way, get off the modern western diet, with its abundance of processed food, refined grains and sugars, and its sore lack of vegetables, whole grains and fruit.”
In honor of National Food Day may we be inspired to transition to a plant-based diet consisting of mostly whole foods - fruits, veggies, grains, and legumes, i.e. real food. By moving away from the packaged, processed products in the middle aisles of the grocery store (that are chalk full of Conflict Palm Oil) and meat we can support a diet that is healthy for our bodies and the planet.
On National Food Day we should also consider how our diets in the U.S. impact people around the world. Close to ninety percent of the world’s palm oil is cultivated in Indonesia and Malaysia where communities are losing access to their land and livelihoods. The global demand for cheap commodities like palm oil is driving multinational corporations to wipe out local food sovereignty and food security. Do your part by considering the benefits of a compassionate, plant-based diet and supporting your local farmers markets!
This guest blog has been authored by Lester Seri of Collingwood Bay, Papua New Guinea. He is one of many local residents fiercely resisting KLK's attempted landgrab of the community's forests.
My name is Lester Seri, and I am a Maisin landowner in Collingwood Bay, Papua New Guinea. I come from the Wofun Clan, belonging to the Wo Ari Kawo tribe, and I have been mandated by the Wo Ari Kawo Elders to speak on behalf of them on Tribal land matters.
My people - the Maisin people - along with our neighboring communities in Collingwood Bay have been fighting to protect our customary lands from illegal land grabs for logging and palm oil development for nearly three decades. In 2002 we won a four year court battle against the government for illegally leasing our land for logging and palm oil projects without the consent of the customary landowners. Yet, in 2012 this SAME land area was leased again to suspect middlemen landowner companies and ultimately sold to Malaysian palm oil company Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad (KLK). When I and several other landowners heard that our lands had been leased without our consent again, we took our case to court once more.
In May of this year, the National Court of Papua New Guinea declared the two leases claimed by KLK illegal again and ordered them to be cancelled. While this court victory was important, KLK has not yet left Collingwood Bay and our struggle continues.
KLK was forced to give up two leases on customary lands through the court case, but the company still claims a third lease in Collingwood Bay called Lot 5. In recent communications, KLK has stated that it has no intentions to leave Lot 5, despite the fact that it is within Maisin customary lands and holds primary forest and small patches of ‘kunai grass’ that our people use annually for game hunting.
As a member of the RSPO and through its own voluntary commitments, KLK has also pledged not to clear primary forests, High Conservation Value Forests, or High Carbon Stock forests, so there is absolutely no way KLK can develop palm oil on Lot 5. Therefore, there is absolutely no reason for them still to be here, yet they are.
Our people have been fighting companies like KLK for too long, and we are fed up with their attempts to undermine our local economies and culture and rob us of our rich natural resources. Our paramount chiefs have said no to these forms of development, and they have said no to palm oil development in Collingwood Bay.
The forests and cultures of the Collingwood Bay people are at stake if KLK proceeds. We urgently need your voice to send this message to KLK loud and clear: No palm oil development and no KLK in Collingwood Bay!
Lester Seri is a Maisin landowner in Collingwood Bay, Papua New Guinea from the Wofun Clan, belonging to the Wo Ari Kawo tribe. He is a Coordinator for Oro Communities Environmental Advocacy Network (OCEAN) Inc., which campaigns against illegal land, logging and oil palm issues and was a Plaintiff in Collingwood Bay communities’ customary land court case. Lester is a graduate of the University of Papua New Guinea and served as a Public Servant with the Department of Environment and Conservation for 17 years. He then became the Executive Director of Conservation Melanesia Inc., an environmental NGO, and also served as a Board member on several organizations such as Melanesian Environment Foundation (MEF) Inc., Eco-Forestry Forum (EFF), Environmental Law Centre (ELC) Inc., Conservation Forum (CF) Inc.
A few weeks ago, RAN announced its newest campaign, Out of Fashion, a campaign for forest-friendly fabric. Currently, some of the biggest names in fashion are responsible for the pulping of pristine forests for clothing. The destruction of these forests creates a ripple effect: human rights abuses, land grabbing, habitat and biodiversity loss, climate disruption and toxics pollution.
Dissolving pulp, which is spun into thread and woven into fabric, appears on clothing racks as rayon, viscose, Tencel, lyocell, and modal. RAN is working to expose this destructive practice, and transform the supply chains of some of the most popular brands and we need your help. Are you in for a little guerrilla activism? Sign up here for your (free) stickering kit and take action to eliminate forest destruction in our clothing.
We know that it’s possible for companies to change and avoid this risk by tracing their supply chains, and implementing a global forest footprint policy.
Unfortunately, many companies are still not responding to this critical issue. So, today, RAN is releasing the names of the Fashion 15. These are companies who produce clothing made from rayon and viscose, who currently face serious risk in their supply chains.
The Fashion 15 are:
Closet Classics: Guess, Abercrombie and Fitch, Forever 21, Velvet, & Limited Brands (Victoria’s Secret, The Limited, and more)
Athletic Wear: Under Armour, Foot Locker, Gaiam, Beyond Yoga
Luxury Brands: Prada Group (Prada, Miu Miu, and more), Vince, Tory Burch, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, and LVMH (Dior, Donna Karen, Fendi, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton, and more)
In order to put pressure on these companies to do the right thing, the Out of Fashion campaign is inviting you to get involved. Over the fall, we’ll be stickering the price tags of clothing made by these companies, This will not only show the companie show serious we are, it will inform shoppers about the risks associated with the clothing.
In May, Collingwood Bay landowners won a major victory when the National Court of Papua New Guinea declared two leases claimed by major Malaysian palm oil grower Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad (KLK) illegal and ordered them to be cancelled. Unfortunately, the company still claims a third lease in Collingwood Bay, Lot 5, and has stated that it has no intentions to leave.
Lot 5 is covered in primary forest and holds important hunting grounds for the local communities, which have rejected KLK and any other companies’ offers to develop palm oil in their area. Further, development of Lot 5 for palm oil would violate KLK’s own commitments not to clear primary forests, High Conservation Value Forests, or High Carbon Stock forests.
Sign on to our letter calling on KLK’s CEO Tan Sri Dato’ Lee Oi Hian to pull out of Collingwood Bay immediately.
Dear Tan Sri Dato’ Lee Oi Hian,
I am outraged by KLK’s decision to stay in Collingwood Bay. After losing its two major leases in Collingwood Bay, KLK is only left with Lot 5, an area covered in primary forests and used as hunting grounds for the local communities. How does KLK plan to develop this area in line with its commitments to the RSPO and its commitments not to clear High Carbon Stock Forests under the Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto?
It is clear that the Council of Chiefs opposed KLK’s presence in Collingwood Bay from the beginning, but now KLK’s intentions to develop palm oil in Collingwood Bay threaten not only to disrupt local communities but also to destroy pristine rainforests.
It’s time for KLK to walk away from Collingwood Bay. I call on you to take a stand and announce KLK’s plans to pull out of Collingwood Bay with immediate effect.
Photo Credit: Erik Wakker
In the past two weeks we have made history. We have seen the biggest climate rallies take place on the streets of over 150 countries. People are united by one truth: climate change is happening, it is affecting communities now and time is running out to take action to avoid the tipping point to dangerous climate change.
Momentum is building and people are united in efforts to take on the biggest polluters: commodity producers that are destroying the ecosystems that regulate our climate and the fossil fuel industry.
One year ago, RAN exposed the role that 20 of the world biggest snack food companies play in driving climate change through their use of Conflict Palm Oil. Since then half of these companies including Nestle, Unilever, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelez, Hershey's, ConAgra Foods, Smuckers, Dunkin Brands and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts have adopted new commitments to cut the destruction of rainforests and carbon rich peatlands and social conflict from their supply chains; some companies including PepsiCo and Hormel Foods have taken initial but inadequate steps; and others including Kraft, Heinz, Campbell Soup, Nissin Foods and Toyo Suisan, are laggards that continue to bury their heads in the sand refusing to take action.
One thing is clear, time is running out for PepsiCo and the Snack Food 20 companies to cut Conflict Palm Oil from their products.
It's time for companies to put new commitments into action. Deforestation rates in Indonesia, where a majority of palm oil is grown, are the highest ever and continue to rise. We simply can not allow palm oil companies to bulldoze the ecosystems that our societies survival depends upon. The Snack Food 20 companies must stop buying palm oil from the companies responsible for the carbon bombs released into the atmosphere when rainforests and peatlands are cleared to make way for new plantations.
The Snack Food 20 must step up and address their Conflict Palm Oil problem. They need to demonstrate that they have stopped the bulldozers in their supply chains and have eliminated suppliers who are unwilling to be part of the global just transition to a low carbon economy.
The sands are shifting but we need to keep up the pressure on the palm oil sector, PepsiCo and the Snack Food 20 until we see real change on the ground.
Image via Carlos Quiles
This week an important milestone was reached in the effort to save portions of the precious Leuser Ecosytsem in Indonesia.
Covering over 6 million acres of intact lowland and mountainous rainforests The Leuser is considered by many scientists and conservationists to be among the most important forests left in Southeast Asia. It is home to the densest population of orangutans left anywhere, and is the last place on earth where orangutans, tigers, elephants, rhinos and sun bears share the same habitat.
This fragile and irreplaceable ecosystem and the extraordinary life it supports are imminently threatened by industrial development. One of the biggest threats has been the expansion of illegal palm oil plantations within the boundaries of the Leuser Protected Ecosystem. However, local organizations and communities have been fighting back by working to physically remove 25,000 acres of illegal plantations from within the boundaries of Leuser.
The Leuser is also home to carbon-rich peatland swamps, where a consistent layer of water keeps the carbon in the ground and out of the atmosphere. However thanks to the deforestation from the expansion of palm oil plantations, these swamplands are being systematically drained -- releasing a virtual carbon bomb into the atmosphere and making Indonesia one of the biggest carbon polluters on the planet.
But there is hope.
Protect-an-Acre grant recipients Leuser Conservation Forum (FKL) -- led by 2014 Goldman Environmental Prize winner Rudi Putra, and Forest, Nature and Environment Aceh -- recently relayed the news to us that they have been able to convince the local government in Aceh Tamiang to participate in a joint effort to physically remove the illegal plantations in order to allow the natural forest to recover.
This is great news because previous work by these organizations removing over 1,000 acres of these illegal plantations resulted in the return of wildlife, including elephants, to those areas within a very short time period. Communities that live near the Leuser Protected Ecosystem also benefit from this project because the restoration of deforested hillsides will help reduce the threat of flooding and mudslides. Now that local government officials are onboard the remaining plantations targeted by their efforts can be removed.
This week a ceremony was held to begin the work of cutting down the remaining illegal, non-native crops and to launch the restoration process. The LLeuser Conservation Forum (FKL) and Forest, Nature and Environment Aceh teams also sent huge thank you to the RAN community for supporting their work.
You too can help support projects like these that help local community-led efforts to protect rainforests around the world by supporting RAN’s Protect-an-Acre program.
The risks associated with palm oil cultivation, such as rainforest destruction, climate change, species extinction, and human rights abuse continue to plague the tropical countries of Malaysia and Indonesia. These countries are host to some of the world’s most vital rainforests, and are also where close to 90% of the world’s palm oil is grown. Thus, unsurprisingly, the devastation caused by palm oil cultivation in these countries has been colossal.
Eliminating Conflict Palm Oil from snack food products has been an on-going mission at RAN, and we are elated to report that our fight for the cause has gained some serious momentum. In July, after over 7 years of consistent pressure from RAN and our supporters, Cargill, the largest importer of palm oil into the United States, announced a new commitment to remove Conflict Palm Oil from its supply chain. Although a robust implementation plan is missing and other gaps need to be addressed, this monumental breakthrough was realized in large part due to the persistent pressure generated by the actions of RAN’s Palm Oil Action Team (POAT).
Along with Cargill, some of the Snack Food 20 companies are also taking steps towards adopting responsible palm oil procurement policies. Most recently, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Dunkin’ Brands have adopted new commitments to cut Conflict Palm Oil. However, to ensure these commitments are properly implemented, we must continue to closely watch how these companies proceed and continue to put pressure on the Snack Food 20 laggards - companies who have yet to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil, or have presented inadequate policies, such as PepsiCo.
Some highlights from the field - examples of ways the POAT has generated pressure on PepsiCo to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil:
September 9, 2014: Three POAT moms delivered 350,000+ petitions from people in 122 countries to PepsiCo’s global HQ in White Plains, NY asking that the company fix the gaps in it’s inadequate Forest Stewardship Policy and palm oil policy.
August 21, 2014: RAN launched a spoof PepsiCo website featuring hundreds of activists in the field jamming Pepsi’s own darkly ironic message by doing “#LiveForNow shouldn’t mean destroying tomorrow!” photo actions in front of key PepsiCo facilities, events, and products
May 20, 2014: Over 100 Global Day of Action to Cut Conflict Palm Oil events took place in the US, 38 events were hosted abroad and over 700 people attended events around the world. Online, PepsiCo’s Facebook pages were flooded, its phone lines filled, and the #InYourPalm message was spread far and wide across the globe.
Join the POAT to help us escalate pressure on PepsiCo, the largest globally distributed snack food company in the world! As consumers, it is important that we demand that the products we purchase aren't contributing to the destruction of rainforests and peatlands, or the violation of human rights, including the use of child labor.
It is crucial that PepsiCo and all the Snack Food 20 companies can demonstrate to their customers where the palm oil it purchases was grown and that it is not associated with the dire impacts of Conflict Palm Oil in Indonesia and Malaysia. If these corporations want to be leaders in combating climate change they must strengthen their palm oil commitment and immediately stop sourcing palm oil from companies that are destroying the forest ecosystems and peatlands that help mitigate climate change.
Our movement is powerful and many of the Snack Food 20 companies are listening, but there is still work to be done! Our voices alone will not instigate change. We need your help to truly mobilize reform, so become a member of our Palm Oil Action Team and join the movement by taking action to help put an end to deforestation, human rights violations, species endangerment, and climate change.
Already a member of the Palm Oil Action Team and looking for resources? Here's some of our most useful pieces.
This post is by the RAN staff who were in New York as part of the People's Climate March: Lindsey Allen, Ginger Cassady, Susana Cervantes, Adrienne Fitch-Frankel, Chelsea Matthews, Scott Parkin, Claire Sandberg, Amanda Starbuck, Laurel Sutherlin, Emm Talarico, Christy Tennery-Spalding and Todd Zimmer.
Wow, these past few days have been an exhausting and exhilarating whirlwind of activity and activism here in New York City.
As world leaders gathered yesterday for the UN Climate Summit, much of RAN’s staff and network was recovering from back to back, power-packed days of nonstop organizing, training, marching, meeting, movement building and risking arrest to challenge corporate power at the heart of the global financial system.
You’ve likely heard the superlatives. Sunday’s People’s Climate March was the largest demonstration for climate action in history, with more than 400,000 people — from all walks of life and all over the country and across the world — joining together in the streets of Manhattan to demand a change of course from the dangerous path towards climate chaos we are all headed down. The global media coverage of the march meant that, for once, the old chant was true: "The whole world is watching!"
Of course no one is naïve enough to think a big march is going to solve climate change overnight. But equally, all of the great social movements of our time have been catalyzed by pivotal mass mobilizations that ratcheted up pressure on the power structures of the status quo and spurred those present — and those watching — into further action.
The vibrant and wildly diverse display of humanity we witnessed in the streets was breathtaking and truly inspirational — there is just nothing quite like the electricity of glimpsing the immense power of people joined together in mass collective action. The fossil fuel industry may be the wealthiest in history, but on Sunday we reminded the world that money is not the only form of power.1
But we did not start or stop our work here with the march. The network, from board to staff, from Eugene, Ore., to Charlotte, N.C., from former interns to celebrity supporters, has been busy helping to support and add strength to many facets of this week’s sprawling mobilization.
We organized an all day workshop on Friday to share tactics and strategies for challenging corporate power to a large and enthusiastic crowd of supporters. Afterwards we hosted hundreds of activists and change makers for a Happy Hour for Hellraisers networking extravaganza that was part reunion, part relationship building and part letting off steam.
It was after the march, though, that things got really exciting. Responding to a call from the Climate Justice Alliance for civil disobedience actions to add urgency to Sunday’s march, local organizers issued an invitation to Flood Wall Street. As both the symbolic and literal epicenter of global capitalism, Wall Street’s main players must be held accountable for funding the current climate crisis as well as actively opposing organized efforts to wean our economy off fossil fuels.
Unlike Sunday’s permitted march, the Flood Wall Street protest Monday morning was in direct defiance of business as usual and the thousands of people who gathered knew we were risking arrest by participating. After listening to rousing speeches by Indigenous and frontline community leaders and Naomi Klein about the stakes we face at this moment in history, the crowd, all wearing blue, streamed into the streets and overwhelmed traffic, bringing it to a halt.
The raucous but peaceful procession flooded the streets surrounding Wall Street’s iconic bull and then sat together in the streets, unfurling a 10-foot wide, 300-foot long banner, legible only to those in the office towers, helicopters and drones overhead, that read "Capitalism = Climate Chaos: Flood Wall Street".
For many hours the protest shut down one of the busiest thoroughfares in any financial district in the world, chanting the anthem of the day:
People gonna rise with the water
We’re gonna calm this crisis down
I hear the voice of my great granddaughter
Saying: “Shut down Wall Street now!”2
Yesterday took us from the streets to the halls of power. RAN's very own Lindsey Allen and Laurel Sutherlin attended the U.N. Climate Summit, where they saw encouraging steps by governments and companies,3 and witnessed a huge campaigning victory firsthand. They watched as the CEO of one of RAN’s oldest and most intransigent targets, Cargill, stood next to U.S. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and announced an unprecedented zero-deforestation pledge. Cargill is the biggest importer of palm oil in the U.S. and the largest private company in the world, and this sweeping global commitment covers its entire empire.4
That massive climate, human rights and biodiversity milestone follows years of hard, committed campaigning by RAN and its allies. It’s a bracing reminder that while — as Frederick Douglass said — power concedes nothing without a demand, together we can challenge corporate power and win.
More than ever, this week affirmed for all of us that executives and politicians will not and cannot save us now. Only a strategic, determined and diverse social movement like the one we saw in New York can truly change the course of history.
The RAN crew returns to San Francisco with new allies and fresh resolve to double down on our efforts to keep carbon in the ground and to lift up the voices of those ready to enact real climate solutions. We are reinvigorated in our fights to protect the forests of Indonesia, to prevent reckless coal mining in Australia and Appalachia, and to end extraction of the North American tar sands.
1. "Challenge Corporate Power in the Streets of NYC," September 21, 2014, Rainforest Action Network
2. "#FloodWallStreet," September 22, 2014, Rainforest Action Network
3. "The Proximity of Hope at the U.N. Climate Summit," September 23, 2014, Lindsey Allen, Rainforest Action Network
4. "Cargill commits to zero deforestation across entire global supply chain: all commodities," September 23, 2014, Rhett A. Butler, Mongabay
The past few days have been exhilarating as hundreds of thousands of people around the globe display their insistence and commitments to tackling the imminent threats of climate change.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is to be commended for initiating this effort. However, we are past the point where non-binding declarations from governments and corporations will have the forceful and immediate impact necessary to avert the imminent crisis we face.
It is time for action. It is time for global officials to learn from Indigenous and local communities who have been creating effective solutions for maintaining forests for years. It is time for globally binding commitments, the recognition of the traditional and customary rights of forest-dependent communities, and the actionable enforcement of these policies. Real and coordinated global commitments are needed to address the underlying drivers of climate change: blind market demand for deforestation commodities; poor forest governance and corruption; distorted fiscal priorities; and destructive and unaccountable corporate activities.
We need more commitments like those from Norway, Germany and Peru – who have committed hundreds of millions of dollars to prevent deforestation in a number of countries including the Peruvian Amazon. Perhaps most importantly their funding will include support for local communities in these programs. The Peruvian agreement will explicitly respect the rights and proposals of indigenous communities in this process, as well as increasing indigenous land rights by at least 5 million hectares.
Time and time again, the best solutions to salvage our planet’s bio-diversity and stabilize our climate (i.e., stopping the imminent extinction of many endangered species and protecting crucial forests that protect the planet from further global warming) have come from local communities. It is imperative that those on the front lines of climate change be represented at the decision-making table in these types of negotiations. Many of these voices were sorely missed at the Climate talks in New York – such as the dozens of community groups who are part of the Climate Justice Alliance and who were excluded entry to the UN Summit.
On the other end of the spectrum, it is encouraging that big corporate players have taken the opportunity of the Climate Summit to publicly acknowledge their responsibility in forging a new path toward climate stability, even if many of these are re-statements of existing commitments. And in this respect, the support for The New York Declaration on Forests has been encouraging – including the support for this declaration from some of RAN’s most prominent targets over the past decade.
However these are still only voluntary commitments in a public forum. These corporations still must turn these statements into actionable policies and demonstrable shifts in practice throughout their global supply chains.
But the opportunity for change is here. At this point RAN is confident in one thing: the only way to ensure we will have a healthy planet for future generations is if we take it upon ourselves to make it happen.
Governments have had the opportunity to lead for decades. Now it is time for them to listen.
Executive Director RAN
Press Release: President of Indonesia put to the test over imminent deforestation at UN Climate Summit
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014
President of Indonesia put to the test at UN Climate Summit over imminent deforestation
NGOs issue a plea for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to cut carbon pollution by protecting the world renowned Leuser Ecosystem
A video of the plea to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7x5UyXKYnYg
Joint letter to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono:
Plea for President of Indonesia to take bold action to combat climate change by rejecting plan to destroy the Leuser Ecosystem
Dear President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono,
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has invited global leaders to the UN Climate Summit 2014 on 23 September to motivate bold climate action. An ambitious, visionary approach is now critical: Climate change is happening and is damaging the ecosystems our societies and economies rely upon. It is time for a meaningful global agreement and immediate action.
Indonesia now has the highest deforestation rate in the world. The rate has surpassed that of Brazil, despite Brazil having five times the natural forest cover of Indonesia. Sumatra tops the table for the worst deforestation rate within Indonesia.
Mr President, it doesn’t have to be this way. World leaders are expecting to see their peers taking strong positive action beyond the Climate Summit to put the brakes on the carbon pollution that results from the destruction of the planet’s remaining forests. The very last thing the world wants to see is vast areas of intact forests being signed over for logging and pulp and oil palm plantations: Yet this is exactly the reality facing the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra today.
The Leuser Ecosystem is by far Sumatra’s most significant remaining tropical rainforest and it contains some of the richest representations of the biodiversity of Southeast Asia. In fact, it is considered by experts to be one of the world’s “Most irreplaceable areas”, ranked overall as the 33rd most irreplaceable area out of over 173,000 protected areas worldwide. It is the last place on earth where orangutans, rhinoceros, elephants and tigers still coexist in the wild. It is worth millions of dollars each year to Indonesia through the ecosystem services it provides to Aceh’s human community. It is also safely storing millions of tonnes of the planet’s carbon in its forest and peat soils. Yet, as we write - at this very moment - local politicians are pushing through a plan to open up the Leuser Ecosystem for logging, oil palm and mining. The plan will also legalise numerous illegal roads which are already cutting through Leuser’s forests.
President Yudhoyono, with only a stroke of your pen you could stop this tragedy and save the Leuser Ecosystem for the benefit of our climate and for generations to come. We are now at a globally historic crossroads. We write to pledge our support to you. We will stand behind you as you take bold action to save the Leuser Ecosystem from destruction. For the sake of the local communities who depend on these forests for their survival and livelihoods, for the sake of our global biodiversity and our climate, please leave an enduring and meaningful green legacy by protecting the Leuser Ecosystem.
Over 1.3 million people have signed a petition urging you to reject the plan to cut down protected rainforests in Aceh. Indonesia’s majestic forests are a global treasure and we encourage engagement with the local community to develop a plan that prioritises truly sustainable development, and protects this fragile ecosystem and the animals that live there.
President Yudhoyono, we the undersigned are appealing to you to demonstrate Indonesia's commitment to bold climate action by saving the Leuser Ecosystem. We simply cannot secure a safe climate without your help.
KPHA (Aceh Forest Care Coalition)
 Margono B.A., Potapov P., Turubanova S., Stolle F., & Hansen M. (2014). Primary forest cover loss in Indonesia over 2000-2012. Nature Climate Change, 4, 730–735.
 Le Saout, S., Hoffmann, M., Shi, Y., Hughes, A., Bernard, C., Brooks, T., Bertzky, B., Butchart, S.H.M, Badman, T., & Rodrigues, A. S. (2013). Protected areas and effective biodiversity conservation. Science, 342(6160), 803-805.