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December 13, 2016

BREAKING: RAN Documents Active Rainforest Destruction Inside ‘Orangutan Capital of the World’ Despite Indonesian Government Moratorium

RAN field teams uncover fresh evidence of deforestation within the Tripa peatland, part of Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem; supplier connected to palm oil traders Wilmar and GAR

***Video documentation available here

***Case study with photos, GPS and other supporting documentation available here

Jakarta/San Francisco - A new field investigation by Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has uncovered video evidence of active forest clearance and the dredging of peat drainage canals for palm oil plantation development inside an area dubbed by primatologists as the “orangutan capital of the world.”

The Tripa peatland, located inside the protected Leuser Ecosystem is home to some of the world’s densest concentrations of critically endangered Sumatran orangutans. These peat swamps are known as a buffer against catastrophic climate change as they store massive amounts of carbon safely in the ground, but when they are drained and cleared the process releases major carbon pollution into the atmosphere.

Despite Tripa’s internationally recognized ecological value and a recent Indonesian government-led moratorium aimed to secure protection of rainforests and peatlands, this top priority conservation area is being destroyed by a palm oil producing company called PT. Dua Perkasa Lestari (DPL). Just last week, in the latest update to its authoritative “Red List” of endangered species, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) listed threats to the Leuser Ecosystem as the single largest danger to the continued survival of Sumatran orangutans.

“The Tripa peatland comprises one of the highest priority forests for conservation on the planet, but this fresh evidence exposes that, despite a government moratorium on palm oil expansion and no-deforestation commitments by major palm oil traders like Wilmar and GAR, rogue palm oil producers are still actively destroying the last remnants of this irreplaceable landscape,” said Chelsea Matthews, Leuser Ecosystem Campaigner with Rainforest Action Network. “Urgent government intervention is needed to revoke the company’s permits and begin efforts to protect and restore irreplaceable Tripa peatland.”

 

PT. DPL is a controversial company that has been driving the destruction and burning of Tripa’s forests and peatlands for years. It was previously taken to court by the government of Indonesia for illegal burning of peatlands in Tripa. RAN’s investigation found that palm oil fruit produced by PT. DPL was sold to a nearby mill owned by PT. Raja Marga, which has supplied refineries operated by both Wilmar and Golden Agri-Resources (GAR).

“Just last month, RAN released a report titled Protecting the Leuser Ecosystem: A Shared Responsibility on the state of the Leuser Ecosystem that revealed continued devastation being inflicted by PT. DPL and other ‘Conflict Palm Oil Culprits.’ The report called on Wilmar, GAR and other major players in the palm oil industry to work with governments, communities and other stakeholders to protect the Leuser Ecosystem from further destruction,” continued Matthews. “This latest investigation shows that Wilmar and GAR remain at risk of processing and shipping Conflict Palm Oil from the Leuser Ecosystem.”

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