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Helping the Orangutan      


Helping the orangutan

April 2013 Orangutan in deforested home

Thank you for sharing our concern for such unsustainable production of palm oil and the impacts it has on biodiversity and species which depend on it.

HSI is against the production of palm oil which clears massive expanses of native forest, reduces biodiversity, increases the vulnerability of the habitat to catastrophic fires and affects the local communities that depend on the services and products provided by the forest ecosystems.

The conversion of land for oil palm plantations by the clearing of tropical forests and peat swamps has massive ecological consequences, on both a global and local scale. Oil palm plantations are essentially monocultures that have replaced forests with an immense diversity of shrubs, trees, vines, mosses and other plants, and which lack the food resources most animals require to survive. Most of Indonesia and Malaysia' s terrestrial species can only survive in rainforest habitat, not in plantations.

HSI is in support of actions which reduce the impacts of palm oil production on loss of biodiversity, and especially, the loss of orang-utan habitats. The Sumatran orangutan is classified as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, while the Bornean orangutan is considered endangered. Populations of both species are decreasing rapidly and given the current rates of decline, it is likely that they could become extinct in the wild within as little as 10 years.

In terms of carbon storage, deforestation releases large amounts of carbon that is stored in the vegetation. Oil palm plantations are estimated to hold even less carbon than a logged forest, made worse by the fact that these plantations are only viable for 25 years. Furthermore, more and more plantations are being cultivated on vulnerable peat soils, one of the largest naturally-occurring carbon depots worldwide

What HSI is doing to help Orangutans specifically

Working with our Indonesian partners, HSI has made an enormous effort over the last twelve years, seeking to protect remaining Orangutan populations and helping injured mothers and orphaned babies, We have been successful in helping conserve critical Orangutan populations in Sumatra and Kalimantan, and gaining a global commitment from the world' s nations at the Bali Climate Change Meeting in December 2007, to find ways of protecting tropical rainforests in Indonesia, the home of the last wild Orangutan populations.

Our aim is to continue our current Orangutan conservation programs in Sumatra and Kalimantan, where we are studying Orangutan and human conflict issues and helping local peoples to take up alternate work to illegal logging and step up anti-poaching activities.

Our habitat restoration project is the longest running reforestation site in Borneo and has become a model for other efforts in the region.

We will also pursue, with extra special international effort, the protection of all Indonesia' s remaining Orangutan rainforest homes. With the increasing demand for palm oil and timber, the fight is on to protect the remaining habitats vital to Orangutan survival

What you can do to help?

Check ingredient lists for palm oil and palm oil derivatives (see list provided below), or search online for lists of palm oil free products.  To date, RSPO has certified 1.5 billion tons of ' ˜sustainable' palm oil. RSPO is heavily criticised, because of its nature as a voluntary agreement, and that it remains to be influenced by economic market pressures. RSPO criteria still allows for clearance of peat forests and other endangered ecosystems. Nevertheless, RSPO certified sustainable palm oil is an improvement on business as usual, so by choosing RSPO labelled products there is a better chance you are promoting the sustainable production of palm oil and helping to reduce the impacts on habitats and species which depend on them.

Write to the Indonesian Minister of Forestry* urging that he instruct his officials in Kalimantan to prosecute all those who kill Orangutans and other wildlife illegally, and to generally apply more resources to enforcing wildlife laws in Kalimantan. Ask him to prohibit the actions of multi-national palm oil producers in destroying Orangutan rainforest habitats, and prosecute owners and managers who authorise the killing of protected wildlife.

*Mr. Zulkifli Hasan, Minister for Forestry

Gedung Pusat Kehutanan

Manggala Wanabhakti Blok I LT. 4

JL. JEND. Gatot Subroto

Senayan Jakarta Pusat Indonesia 10270

Your letter must be very polite, congratulating the Minister for the conservation efforts he is making, but stating clearly your request that they take very strong action against those that kill protected animals. Send your replies to us


The generic 'vegetable oil'  label that commonly conceals the presence of palm oil as an ingredient in packaged products, palm oil and palm oil derivatives can currently be labelled as many different things.  Click here for a PDF of these common ingredients, (82kB)

What can I do?

The team from ProFauna will be spending 5 months of 2012 working in the heart of Borneo running school education programs, intensive training of company officials and workers and garnering local support for orang-utan conservation. This is an ambitious project but this critical research has identified that conflicts around palm oil plantations are accounting for such a large number of senseless and cruel deaths that we must act now.

  1. Please help us in the fight to save this precious species, not just from the cruelty involved in these frenzied massacres, but from the extinction it is moving closer to every day. 
  2. Buy responsibly by choosing Palm Oil Free Products (PDF)**.  (Thanks to Borneo Orangutan Survival Australia)
  3. Write to corporations and organizations that use palm oil and make them aware of the impact of palm oil plantations on the orang-utan population.

**Palm Oil Free Products list updated October 2017


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