Friday, May 22nd, 2009 - Australian Orangutan Project

The Bukit Tigapuluh Landscape is severely threatened due to massive, ongoing forest clearing and a proposal by Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) and its partners to convert expired Selective Timber Concessions - the National Park’s protective Buffer Zone - into pulp paper production. This protective barrier contains much of the landscape’s biodiversity, as well as being the exclusive habitat for 65 members of the Critically Endangered Sumatran Elephant. The area is also home to Temara - the beloved Perth Zoo-born orangutan - released into the wild in 2006. While Temara’s protection is assured, proposed new large-scale deforestation is threatening to destroy the orangutan population that Temara was sent to join.

Located in the Jambi and Riau Province, the Bukit Tigapuluh landscape is the last remaining area of large, dry-lowland forest in Sumatra. The conversion plan will systematically threaten the habitat of many endangered species; environmental services provided by watershed Indragiri and Rateh rivers of Riau and watershed Batanghari and Pengabuan rivers of Jambi; as well as the livelihood of forest-dependent local communities, including indigenous tribes of Talang Mamak and Orang Rimba.

As supporters of the Bukit Tigapuluh landscape, we strongly criticise such a proposal.

Due to the massive Carbon Storage potential of this area, and the significant level of emissions reductions available through decreased deforestation, the Australian Orangutan Project (AOP) and its partner organisations are developing a REDD project in these important buffer areas, currently proposed for deforestation.

At present, there is a submission to the Australian Government seeking support for the project. With the support of the provincial Forestry Department, the Indonesian Federal Government has recently indicated, in principle, support for the concept. In addition, the Bukit Tigapuluh landscape also meets all the requirements for a potential second, joint Australian-Indonesian, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) Demonstration Project.

The Australian Orangutan Project (AOP) is active within the Park, funding 8 Wildlife Protection Units that protect the Park from illegal deforestation. Through AOP, the Australian Government funded the initial development of the Wildlife Protection Units in the Park as a part of its Regional Natural Heritage Program.

Over 100 orangutans have also been released to date via the Bukit Tigapuluh Sumatran Orangutan Reintroduction Project – the only reintroduction site for this Critically Endangered species. Funding for this project is also contributed by AOP ‘Safe Guard’ supporters, Perth Zoo, Auckland Zoo, Australia Zoo, Dream World and Human Society International.

We now call on the Australian Government to assist the Indonesian Government, through financial support, to develop the Globally important Bukit Tigapuluh Landscape into a REDD Project. Protecting remaining forest in Bukit Tigapuluh from forest conversion by APP and its partners will in-turn, protect significant levels of critically endangered biodiversity and assist in mitigating climate change.

We are very concerned by APP’s past, present and proposed activites, and call for APP and its partners to cease further forest clearing within the Bukit Tigapuluh Landscape. We see this as a Global issue and critically timely to protect the high-value forest from destruction.

Members of the public can sign a petition against the proposed logging here http://www.gopetition.com.au/petitions/orangutan.html

– ENDS -


Leif Cocks: President, Australian Orangutan Project

Michael Kennedy: Director, Humane Society International

Chris West: CEO, Zoos South Australia

Al Mucci: Director, Dream World

Jonathan Wilcken: Director, Auckland Zoo

Kelsey Mostyn Senior Curator, Australia Zoo



For further information, please contact: Vicki Carter (AOP) on 1300 733 273 or via [email protected]


Further Reading

APP hides its continued destruction of natural tropical rainforests that house Sumatran tigers and elephants behind a global advertising campaign that misleads buyers who are increasingly concerned with the company's poor environmental performance (WWF 20 October 2006).

Asia Pulp & Paper has...destroyed and illegally cleared indigenous forest (CCTV International, April 2007).

APP shows a total disregard for the ecosystem in their quest for cheap sources of raw materials (Adam Tomasek, Director of WWF’s Borneo and Sumatra Program. Jan 07, 2008).

Indah Kiat … part of the APP group … sourced approximately 75% of its logs from clear-cutting natural forests and their operations have accounted for 287,000 hectares of deforestation over the last 10 years (Barr, Christopher (2000) Profits on Paper: the Political-Economy of Fibre, Finance, and Debt in Indonesia's Pulp and Paper Industries, Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and WWF-International's Macroeconomics Program Office).

Asia’s biggest single corporate disaster has been Asia Pulp & Paper (The Age 19 October 2005).

APP ran up enormous debts to finance its expansion...the company admitted that it could no longer service these debts, and it announced a moratorium on repayments on...US$13.9 Billion (Social conflict and environmental disaster: A report on Asia Pulp & Paper’s operations in Sumatra, August 2006).

APP has since paid less than $330 million in interest and $188 million in principal payments on the US$13 billion debt to creditors since 2005 when a debt revamp was finally inked (http://papernotes.blogs.com/papernotes/asia/index.html November 17 2006).

U.S. office supply giant Staples Inc. dumped APP as a supplier, labelling them a "great peril to our brand (Wall Street Journal February 8 2008).

In December 2007, the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) announced that it was "dissociating" itself from the giant Sinar Masowned Indonesian paper company Asia Pulp and Paper (APP)

(http://www.fscwatch.org/archives/2008/01/10/FSC_dumps_Asia_Pulp_).

Contact Profile

Australian Orangutan Project


The Australian Orangutan Project (AOP) is a not-for-profit organisation, supporting orangutan onservation, rainforest protection and reintroduction of orphans in order to save the species from extinction.

AOP is a non-partisan organisation that collaborates with several orangutan conservation projects, as well as providing habitat protection through its own
Safeguard project – guard patrols that deter wildlife poaching, illegal logging and land
clearing in Borneo and Sumatra.
Brianna Power
P: 07 5520 7615
W: www.orangutan.org.au

Keywords

The destruction of high biodiversity forest in Sumatra’s Bukit Tigapuluh landscape is happening now, and as a result the Critically Endangered Sumatran Tiger, Elephant and Orangutan are dramatically progressing toward extinction.

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