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The Last Stand of the Orangutan: State of Emergency-Illegal Logging, Fire and Palm Oil in Indonesia’s National Parks

17 Oct 2007

This assessment, based on a series of independent studies, shows that the disastrous situation in Indonesia’s forests is driven mainly by international markets and well-organised timber supply networks. This pattern is also seen in other tropical areas including Latin America and Africa. If the immediate crisis in securing the future survival of the orangutan and the protection of national parks is not resolved, very few wild orangutans will be left within two decades. 

A scenario released by UNEP in 2002 suggested that most natural rain-forest in Indonesia would be degraded by 2032. Given the rate of deforestation in the past five years, and recent widespread investment in oil palm plantations and bio-diesel refineries, this may have been optimistic.

New estimates suggest that 98% of the forest may be destroyed by 2022, the lowland forest much sooner. Since mature forest is being lost from large areas, the supply of timber will decline further. This means that the incentive to log protected areas will grow. The rate and extent of illegal logging in national parks may, if unchallenged, endanger the entire concept of protected areas world wide. At current rates of intrusion into national parks, it is likely that many protected areas will already be severely degraded in three to five years, that is by 2012.

Tags: orangutan environmental crime environmental disasters forests Indonesia

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