365 Reforestation Stories – Story #3: The Leuser Forest


Rainforests are important places of biodiversity, and play a crucial role for controlling global cilmate and carbon emissions, for example. Locally, they are a source of food, water, shelter for animals and also livelihood for the people who live in and/or in close vicinity of the rainforests. And much more. (Photo: juan mendez | Pexels)

It has been a while since the last Reforestation Story, but now the story continues – and moves on to another continent and from the boreal forests of the North to the rainforests of the tropics.

The Leuser Forest in Sumatra, Indonesia is not just a forest, but a vast tropical ecosystem that has global significance (as do all the forests in the world, if you consider it carefully). As some of you might know (and many more should know) this, the rainforest is being threatened by illegal cuttings that are being conducted to make room for example for palm oil trees or for raising cattle for beef. You might have also seen images and video clips of large palm oil plantations – palm tree fields – with only one tree species. Not much of biodiversity there, is it? The contrast is sharp: right next to the oil tree fields, lies a pristine rainforest, a home for countless of animal and plant species, many of which are not found anywhere else in the world.

Probably the most famous and familiar of the threatened species is the Orangutan, a red-furred large ape native to Indonesia and Malaysia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orangutan) that lives mainly in the canopy of the large trees in the rainforest. Or should we say, used to live, because the cuttings have been diminishing the livable area of the Orangutans for decades already, and although the animal itself is protected by law, that doesn’t stop some people from capturing, harming, and even killing the Orangutans for personal or someone else’s gain and profit. That in itself is plain wrong, but not the main topic of this blog post. However, the preservation and protection of the Orangutans among many other species is closely tied to the preservation and protection of the habitat they live in.

”The Orangutan Alliance Organisation is an independent industry-based, non-profit organisation and registered charity promoting the reduction of non-sustainable palm oil in consumer products”

https://orangutanalliance.org/about-us/

The Orangutan Alliance is one of the many organizations working for reclaiming the land in the region for its original use as rainforests and wildlife habitat. One of the ways to achieve that goal is to raise consumer awareness to what it means to nature, people and wildlife if we use palm oil based products (and you would be surprised to know how many products contain palm oil!) and why we should stop using them and choose a non-palm oil products instead, because there are much better alternatives.

Although palm oil production is not the only culprit causing deforestation and the loss of habitable forest land, it is certainly one of the biggest ones. No matter what the cause, the effect is ultimately the same: diminishing forests equals to diminishing biodiversity and protection against global climate warming.

The Orangutan Information Centre

The Orangutan Alliance is partnering with several other organizations and associations to mitigate the problem, and one of those partners is the Orangutan Information Centre (OIC). On its website, the OIC states among other things that it is ”a Medan based NGO, aiming to conserve and protect Orangutans and their forest homes in Sumatra.” (NGO stands for non-governmental organization) .

The OIC has been in operation and going reforestation work for over a decade now (since 2008), and they’ve done a tremendous job. However, in terms of what the scope of their endeavor is, they have just begun. According to the OIC website, they have managed to reforest over 800 hectares of ”critical rainforest”, which is of course awesome. And the task is ongoing.

However, compared to what is being destroyed – a whopping 80,000 hectares every day (https://www.conservation.org/stories/11-deforestation-facts-you-need-to-know) – the rate of reforestation seems awfully slow, but bit by bit, the forests will regrow if more and more of us join the cause to protect our rainforests, adding to the resources that are desperately needed to speed up reforestation and grow the area of forested land. Among many other efforts and in addition to the hands-on reforestation, the alliances aim to help local people find a way to a more sustainable livelihood. After all, the people need to live, too.

The Rainforest Alliance

Speaking of livelihood, one of the biggest multinational companies in the world, Unilever, has made a bold promise: it has promised that ”every worker who provides it with goods and services will earn a living wage by 2030 even if it costs the company more.” (https://edition.cnn.com/2021/01/20/business/unilever-living-wage/index.html). By 2030, WOW! So, it will be only 9 years plus change when people get what they should have had in the first place?

For a company that had a worldwide revenue of 51,980 million US dollars (https://www.statista.com/statistics/269190/global-revenue-of-the-unilever-group-since-2007/). That is, 51 980 000 000 dollars or 51.98 billion…well, it leaves me speechless. Although it’s not that straightforward, but you can do the math and figure out if they could do it, like, right away? However, it is a good thing that Unilever aims to provide a wage that is enough for living, but why not any faster?

https://www.theworldcounts.com/challenges/planet-earth/forests-and-deserts/rate-of-deforestation/story

http://www.supplychainge.org/research/palm-oil/

http://supplychainge.org/fileadmin/user_upload/SC_Research_FW_PalmOil

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