Save Orangutans by Stopping Illegal Logging of Gunung Palung National Park

  • By: Annika Felton
  • Target: Muhammad Prakosa, Minister of Forestry, Indonesia, Government of Indonesia
URGENT! URGENT! URGENT!

While you are reading this letter one of the last safe havens for Orangutans is being destroyed! If the current rate of forest destruction continues, this remarkable species is predicted to be extinct in the wild within the next decade!

Orangutans are restricted to the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra in South East Asia. These forests are now being heavily impacted by logging to supply the demand for hardwood products in Asian, European and American countries. As a result of this and other pressures, Orangutan numbers have fallen by 50% in the last decade and only about 20 000 are estimated to remain.

Until very recently Gunung Palung National Park in West Kalimantan, Indonesia, was a beautiful and secure rainforest oasis that harboured an incredible 15% of the world’s remaining Orangutans. This situation has now changed, and it’s getting worse very quickly. Today, deep within what were once the safe borders of this Park, one is confronted by the sights and sounds of chainsaws and numerous illegal logging teams. Previously tranquil rivers are cluttered with a ceaseless procession of logging-rafts.

Due to conflicting interests, local and regional authorities seem unable or unwilling to halt these destructive activities. As money from wood sales tends to go to foreign companies, illegal logging represents a major loss of revenue for Indonesia. Although the individuals who join dangerous illegal logging teams are provided with a basic income, this has to be weighed against the long-term costs to communities that must cope with flooded rice fields, declining fish stocks, reduced availability of safe drinking water, and loss of income from non-timber forest products such as rattan and fruit. If Gunung Palung National Park is destroyed, villagers will also loose the greatest chance they had to develop a local eco-tourism industry.

Is there any hope? We believe there is. Recent surveys found that almost 2000 orangutans still persist within the borders of the Park, and more in the damaged forests beyond - so it's not too late! If you agree with us that Gunung Palung National Park is too precious to be lost - please sign this petition and spread this message by sending it on to your friends and colleagues! Your participation could directly contribute to the preservation of an entire national park and one of the world's most endangered primates. We do not have much time so please don't hesitate! We need to remind those with the power to do something that protection of these remaining havens is of high priority both nationally and globally.

Below you will find a letter that will be sent to the Minister of Forestry Muhammad Prakosa, the Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yoedoyono, the Minister for Environmental Affairs Nabiel Makarim as well as to the President of Indonesia Megawati Soekarnoputri and the Vice President Hamzah Haz. This letter will be signed by us and, hopefully, you and thousands of other concerned people. Our hopes are that urgent action will then be taken and the Gunung Palung National Park and its Orangutans will be saved!

If you want to find out more before signing the petition, please contact Annika Felton (a.felton@care2.com). You can also look at www.orangutan.com (and click on The Projects and find information about the Gunung Palung Orangutan Conservation Project). Also look at www.geocities.com/gunungpalung/conservation.html

Yours Truly,

Dr. Cheryl Knott, Assistant Professor Harvard University, USA, Director of the Gunung Palung Orangutan Project and the Gunung Palung Orangutan Conservation Program Dr. Timothy Laman, Harvard University, USA Togu Manurung, Director of Forest Watch Indonesia, Bogor Betsy Hill, Field Director of the Gunung Palung Orangutan Conservation Program Andrea Johnson, coordinator of the Gunung Palung Orangutan Census Michelle Brown, consultant to the Gunung Palung Orangutan Project John Harting, acting co-manager of the Cabang Panti Research Station and the Gunung Palung Orangutan Project Page van Meter, acting co-manager of the Cabang Panti Research Station and the Gunung Palung Orangutan Project Helga Peters, Ph.D. candidate Armidale University, Australia Andrew Marshall, Ph.D. candidate Harvard University, USA Annika Felton, M.Sc. Uppsala University, Sweden Linda Engstrom, M.Sc. Uppsala University, Sweden

Letter to Ministers

Recipients:
Minister of Forestry, Muhammad Prakosa
Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs, Susilo Bambang Yoedoyono
Minister for Environmental Affairs, Nabiel Makarim
President of the Republic of Indonesia, Megawati Soekarnoputri
Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia, Hamzah Haz

Dear Sir/ Madam,

We who have signed this petition, request your attention regarding the current problems facing
the survival of Gunung Palung National Park. Until recently Gunung Palung was one of the
great untouched national treasures of Indonesia and one of the last places on Earth
harbouring a significant population of Orangutans. Today illegal logging has damaged 50% of
the Park and current rates of logging are predicted to degrade what remains of the Park's
lowland forest in just a few years.

These unsustainable logging activities will put great strain on the economy of West
Kalimantan. Gunung Palung functions as an important water catchment area for the
surrounding region. Its demise would affect the availability of safe drinking water, cause
flooding of rice fields and sedimentation of rivers and coral reefs where fishermen today find
their livelihood. Detrimental events like these have already started to occur in the region.
Additionally, if this forest is destroyed the primary incentive for eco-tourists from all over the
world to visit this region will be lost, along with revenue for future generations of Indonesians.
Gunung Palung National Park is also an important site for ecological research (for Indonesian
and foreign scientists) and environmental education for local students. In the past two years
over 300 local students have visited the Park and the research station.

We humbly request that the issue of illegal logging within Gunung Palung National Park be
given your urgent attention. We applaud the current changes to forestry policy by the
Indonesian Government. The recent ban on ramin trade is exemplary. In the short term
however, Gunung Palung and other vulnerable national parks will disappear if the level of law
enforcement used to protect these parks is not improved. We ask that you use your power
and influence to stop the destruction of Gunung Palung National Park - for the long term
benefit to local communities and the preservation of Indonesia's incredible natural heritage.

Yours very truly,

We the undersigned
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