Palm Oil Company Ordered to Pay $30 Million for Illegal Rainforest Destruction
By Alicia Graef
An Indonesian court issued a big blow to a palm oil company for illegally destroying forest land in Sumatra’s protected Leuser Ecosystem, which provides critical habitat for orangutans and other endangered species.
In what’s being called a groundbreaking verdict, the court found palm oil company PT Kallista Alam guilty of illegally burning large areas of the Tripa peat forest in the province of Aceh and ordered it to pay roughly $30 million in fines. An estimated $20 million was allocated for restoration efforts. The court also confiscated land and will be charging a fine for every day the palm oil company delays repayment, reports the Environmental News Service.
In 2011 the government placed a two year moratorium on logging in certain areas, but PT Kallista Alam still got a palm oil concession permit that year that it shouldn’t have, which was later revoked. The attention that the company brought to the area and the continued destruction by several other companies garnered protests from around the world and calls for greater protection for the peat swamp forests of Aceh, which include Tripa, Kluet and Singkil.
The case against against PT Kallista Alam was brought by the Ministry of Environment, and environmentalists are applauding its effort and the ruling. They believe it will send a strong message to other companies and hope it will mean improvements in law enforcement efforts to stop deforestation and protect biodiversity in an area that’s vitally important for the future survival of critically endangered orangutans, along with other species including Sumatran tigers and elephants, Malayan sun bears and rhinos.
For orangutans, efforts to protect the the Tripa peat forests and Leuser Ecosystem could be their last hope. There are only an estimated 6,500 orangutans left in Sumatra who continue to face threats from deforestation, habitat fragmentation caused by roads, the pet trade and being killed as pests. Conservationists from Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program (SOCP) estimate that as many as 100 of Tripa’s orangutans have been killed in fires so far.
“Tripa is one of only three remaining peat swamp forests left containing orangutans in Sumatra and its impossible to overstate the importance of protecting every last hectare of each of them,” said Dr. Ian Singleton, SOCP’s director, in a statement.
The Price of Palm Oil
According to the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), nearly 90 percent of palm oil is now grown in Indonesia and Malaysia and the growing demand for it has caused the destruction of some of the Earth’s most valuable rainforests and continues to do so.
International companies continue to put palm oil that has been produced at the expense of the Tripa peat forest and other areas on the market, while its use as a key ingredient in a variety of foods has made it virtually inescapable. This past September RAN called out major food companies, otherwise known as the Snack Food 20, for not ensuring that their palm oil was conflict free.
While advocacy groups and consumers continue to pressure companies to do the right thing, environmentalists are still working to get tougher protection for the Earth’s irreplaceable rainforests.
The court ruling was a victory, but the Leuser Ecosystem is still in danger. The government is now under pressure to finalize a controversial and short-sighted spatial land use plan known as Qanun RTRW Aceh that would threaten Aceh’s protected forests by opening the door for palm oil and timber concessions, mining and the development of roads, which will fragment precious habitat, encourage development, cause more conflicts with wildlife and create more access to rare species for hunters.
Not only would this be a huge blow to orangutans and overall biodiversity, but it will also harm local communities. Environmentalists predict that further deforestation will lead to natural disasters that include more flash floods, landslides and erosion, in addition to destroying livelihoods of those that are forest-dependent and threatening the water supply that millions of people rely on for drinking and food production.
The plan also ignores the environmental and economic benefits that the Leuser Ecosystem provides. According to Graham Usher, Landscape Protection Specialist with the Swiss-based PanEco Foundation, “For Aceh alone these have been valued in excess of 400 million dollars per year, and the region’s contribution to mitigating climate change, through its carbon sequestration function probably stretches into billions of dollars.”
Environmental and animal advocacy groups including RAN, SOCP, the PanEco Foundation and Humane Society International, among others, are now urging the government to reject this plan, in addition to urging Aceh’s governor to protect the Leuser Ecosystem as a whole by supporting its nomination as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Leuser Ecosystem was recently named one of the world’s most irreplaceable places and the international community is fighting to ensure that it gets the protection it deserves.
Visit EcoWatch’s BIODIVERSITY page for more related news on this topic.
Fifteen states are in for an unusually noisy spring.
- Millions of Cicadas Set to Emerge After 17 Years Underground ... ›
- Cicadas Show Up 4 Years Early - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Deep in the woods, a hairy, ape-like man is said to be living a quiet and secluded life. While some deny the creature's existence, others spend their lives trying to prove it.
- Why Hunting Isn't Conservation, and Why It Matters - Rewilding ›
- Decline In Hunters Threatens How U.S. Pays For Conservation : NPR ›
- Is Hunting Conservation? Let's examine it closely ›
- Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation | Oklahoma ... ›
- Oklahoma Bill Calls for Bigfoot Hunting Season | Is Bigfoot Real? ›
By Jon Queally
Noted author and 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben was among the first to celebrate word that the president of the European Investment Bank on Wednesday openly declared, "To put it mildly, gas is over" — an admission that squares with what climate experts and economists have been saying for years if not decades.
- Fossil Fuel Industry Is Now 'in the Death Knell Phase': CNBC's Jim ... ›
- Mayors of 12 Major Global Cities Pledge Fossil Fuel Divestment ... ›
- World's Largest Public Bank Ditches Oil and Coal in Victory for the ... ›
Nine feet tall is gigantic by human standards, but when researcher and conservationist Michael Brown spotted a giraffe in Uganda's Murchison Falls National Park that measured nine feet, four inches, he was shocked.
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="54af350ee3a2950e0e5e69d926a55d83"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/yf4NRKzzTFk?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
- Giraffe Parts Sold Across U.S. Despite Plummeting Wild Populations ... ›
- Green Groups Sue to Get Giraffes on Endangered Species List ... ›
- Conservationists Sound Alarm on Plummeting Giraffe Numbers ... ›
By Daisy Simmons
1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
- 5 Ways to Be an Eco-Friendly Pet Owner - EcoWatch ›
- Can Your Pets Get and Transmit Coronavirus? - EcoWatch ›