Indonesia Government Launches Sumatra Investigation

Indonesia Government Launches Sumatra Investigation

14th Apr 2012 Press Releases

Indonesia Government Launches Sumatra Investigation

Indonesia’s Ministry of the Environment announced today it will open an investigation into the issuance of permits to convert rainforests into palm oil plantations in Sumatra, an allegedly illegal act that may have caused the death of hundreds of orangutans in man-made fires that were set to clear the land.

The ministry’s announcement came in response to findings by the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) forest carbon reduction task force.

On April 13, the government-formed task force said it had evidence that Kallista Alam, a palm oil company, had violated regulations in turning the swamp forest into a plantation. The task force recommended that the ministry and the police further scrutinize the company’s actions.

“The Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) applauds the Government of Indonesia for taking this bold step,” said GRASP coordinator Doug Cress. “The scale of the damage caused by these fires may not be immediately clear, but there’s no doubt that orangutans in Sumatra are in a perilous condition. As many as five percent of the total population may have been lost in these fires.”

The Patrons of GRASP – great ape experts Jane Goodall, Richard Leakey, Richard Wrangham and Russell Mittermeier – sent a letter to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on April 13 asking to intervene in Sumatra, as the country’s biodiversity was under “extreme threat.”

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