An environmental catastrophe is taking place in the Tripa forest in Aceh province, Indonesia for corporate profits. Palm oil companies are draining the swamps and burnging the trees in Tripa forest to increase production, and in the process are killing off an international treasure, the Sumatran orangutan. Tripa forest is home to the densest population of the critically endangered Sumatran orangutan, one of the few ape species alive today. Conservationists have estimated that over half of the orangutans found Tripa forest have already, some burning to death in the fires. The remaining orangutans will almost certainly perish within months if the draining and burning of the forests are not stopped.
Despite the efforst of Walhi, Indonesia's largest environmental organization, and other groups, a three-judge panel at the Banda Aceh Administrative Court upheld a license issued by the Aceh provincial government to palm oil company PT Kallista Alam. The license allows the company to convert 4,000 acres (1,600 hectares) of the Tripa peat swamp forest into a palm oil plantation. PT Kallista Alam is one of four companies working in Tripa forest, and their actions are devastating local wildlife and their ecologies.
As a Professor of Anthropology at Ohio University and Director of the Hominid Behavior Research Project I have worked in forests around the world on issues of ape conservation for over a decade. I was fortunate to spend time in 1999 working with local communities on the conservation of the Javan gibbon, another critically endangered ape in the region. As a result, I am very familiar with the complexities, challenges and immediacy of this situation. If something is not done, right away, this population of apes will disappear off the face of the earth.
Indonesia has laws in place to protect the Tripa forest and its most famous resident, The Sumatran orangutan, a world heritage species and an international treasure. President Yudhoyono has the power to stop the destruction of Tripa, but he has to act now.
With your help we can deliver 5,000 signatures to His Excellency Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of the Republic of Indonesia, urging him to uphold the laws already in place, before it is too late and the world loses this unique treasure.
Dear President Yudhoyono,
We urge you to uphold the laws of your country and put an immediate stop the environmental catastrophe taking place in and around the Tripa forests in Aceh province. Tripa is home to dozens of types found nowhere else in the world, including serving as home to the world heritage species, the Sumatran orangutan.
This is a historic decision about how we, as humans, will respond to environmental emergencies, which will happen more and more frequently as our planet changes. Please be on the right side of history and put an immediate stop to the destructive practices used by PT Kallista Alam and the other palm oil companies working in Tripa and preserve this delicate ecosystem.
Hogan M. Sherrow, Ph.D.
Director, Hominid Behavior Research Project
Professor, Dept of Soc & Anth, Ohio University.