I wish I didn’t have to write this blog post on Earth Day. The rainforest where I saw my first wild orangutan is under threat. I can’t believe it!
There are many reasons to protect the Leuser Protected Ecosystem, a forest area on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia. Thousands of Indigenous people rely on the forest for their lives and livelihoods, and it is the last place on Earth where endangered species like the Sumatran orangutan and the Sumatran tiger coexist with elephants, rhinos, and Sunbears.
But the government of Aceh, the province in which the Leuser Protected Ecosystem lies, is considering a plan that would remove large regions of forest from the protected area, opening them up to palm oil and pulp plantations, logging, mining, and all of the roads and other infrastructure that come with them. The Indonesian government is now considering the plan, and has the power to reject it.
We need to be making sure that what’s left of the world’s rainforests are protected, not opening them to destructive industries seeking to profit from rainforest destruction. Send Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Secretary General of the Ministry of Forestry Hadi Daryanto an email now calling on them to reject this misguided plan and keep the Leuser Protected Ecosystem protected.
Of course, it’s not just local communities and wildlife that need to be protected from bulldozers and forest fires. Indonesia’s rainforests are a valuable carbon sink—destroying them would make our climate problem that much worse, imperiling the future of everyone on this planet just to enrich a few well-connected businessmen.