Orangutan Survival and the Shopping Trolley

Many of the biscuits, margarines, breads, crisps and even bars of soap that consumers pick off supermarket shelves contain an ingredient that is feeding a growth industry that conservationists say is killing the orangutans.

The mystery ingredient in the mix is Palm Oil - the cheapest source of vegetable oil available and one that rarely appears on the label of most products.

Palm Oil is grown oAmazon Firen land that was once home to the vast  Borneo and the natural habitate of the orangutan.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature estimates that the population has declined by 50% in recent decades and the Indonesian government admits that 50,000 orangutans have died as a result of de-forestation.

A BBC Panorama investigation into clear-cutting in Indonesian Borneo, the island it shares with Malaysia, found that the thirst for land on which to plant Palm plantations is encroaching on areas that the Indonesian government has deemed to be off limits.   

Nuisance - The orangutans, displaced as the trees of old growth forests are burned and at times killed by workers who see them as a nuisance in the logging process, are not the only victims of the runaway growth in Palm Oil, scientists say there is a wider environmental price being paid.

It has been identified that the draining of ancient pea

 orangutan
 A Sad Orangutan In It's Burnt Out Surroundings
t lands to make way for Palm Oil is a global threat, it has lead to massive amounts of trapped methane and carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere.

As a result, Indonesia is the world's third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind only America and China.

Using GPS technology and satellite imaging, the BBC team pinpointed exact locations where Palm Oil giant the Duta Palma Group is logging on both high conservation lands and deep peat lands, both are illegal.

This illegal logging is widespread and includes major suppliers to the UK's food and household product market.

"We want the Indonesian government to immediately announce a moratorium on further deforestation...beginning with peat lands."

Willie Smits, a former advisor to the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry turned environmental campaigner, said of the findings: "This is criminal, this should not take place. It means there is no hope left for the most endangered sub-species of the orangutan in west Kalamantan."

He said the wider environmental issue of greenhouse gases can no longer be overlooked by both manufacturers and everyday consumers.

"This is not just a matter for Indonesia to decide, this is a matter for the world."

Greenwash - The Palm industry, valued at £5bn ($7.7bn) for Indonesia, is the country's third biggest export earner.

Many of the big manufacturers who buy that oil via European Wholesalers say that while they are starting to find oil from sustainable sources, they are not yet in a position to trace the origin of all of the oil they use.

Curently, only 3% of the world's palm oil is certified sustainable, meaning it comes from plantations that pass an environmental and social impact test.

Many have joined the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) scheme set up to promote certification of where palm oil originates.

Others have set amitious goals to use sustainable oil by 2015 or earlier, but the RSPO amounts to a 'greenwash' because those commitments are unenforceable on the ground.

Bulk oil from a variety of plantations including that of Duta Palma Group that the BBC found to be illegally clear-cutting is mixed together and shipped around the world and sold on to manufacturers behind everyday products.

Duta Palma declined to comment on the BBC's evidence of illegal deforestation.

Consumer Pressure - Hilary Benn, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, told Panorama the time is right for consumers to put pressure on manufacturers, demanding to know which of their products contain Palm Oil and assurances that it comes from a sustainable source.

Current labelling laws allow manufacturers to list Palm Oil as 'Vegetable Oil' without singling out the Palm Oil content.

Many manufacturers including industry giants Unilever and Proctor and Gamble, say their recipes can change and the amounts and types of oils they use can vary from week to week, making more detailed labels unworkable.

However, Sainsbury's supermarkets had earlier taken the decision to not only single out Palm Oil on the ingredients lists of their own brand products, but to state directly that it is from a sustainable source.

Recently Unilever, the UK's largest user of Palm Oil in products that range from Dove soap to Pot Noodles, Knorr soups and Flora, terminated a large contract with a supplier called Sinar Mas, because of reports it was destroying high conservation value forests.

Unilever has told Panorama that while it may have used oil from Duta Palma in the past, it intends to overcome its supply system problems so that it no longer uses oil from the producer.

Secretary Benn said, "I think it's really about what consumers can do because the most powerful message that can be sent to companies is from their consumers about what it is they want to buy," he told reporter Raphael Rowe, citing the demand for free range eggs in the UK as an example of consumer influence.

Mr Benn said the participation by UK retailers and manufacturers in the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil is a step towards ensuring that Palm Oil is traceable and therefore increases the chances that it can be certified sustainable.

Palm oil products in your weekly shop.

To help you understand Palm Oil ingredients that go into your shopping trolley, Rainforests are mostly illegally cut down and burnt and orangutans slaughtered and burnt. Companies that are mostly using Non Certified Palm Oil in their products:

Cadbury, Clover (Dairy Crest), Young's (Findus), Ginsters, Haribo, Aunt Bessie's Roast Potatoes (Heinz), Crunchy Nut Clusters (Kelloggs), Mars, Nestle, Goodfella's Pizza, Chicago Town Pizza, Proctor & Gamble (Pringles), Premier Foods, Vanish, Unilver, Warburtons, Wrigley, Sainsbury's, Asda, Aldi, Tesco, Waitrose, The Co-Operative, Birds Eye, Marks & Spencer.

A deforested area in northern Brazil (file pic)
High soy and cattle prices may have contributed to the rise in illegal logging

Amazon deforestation accelerates

The destruction of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil has accelerated for the first time in four years, Brazilian officials say.

Satellite images show 11,968 sq km of land was cleared in the year to July, nearly 4% higher than the year before.

The government said the figure was unsatisfactory but could have been a lot worse if it had not taken action against illegal logging.

High commodity prices had allegedly tempted farmers to clear more land.

In recent years the Brazilian government has been able to celebrate three successive falls in deforestation.

But the latest estimate from the National Institute for Space Research, known as INPE, shows that this trend has come to a halt.

'Could be worse'

Gilberto Camara of the Space Research Institute, said they would have liked better news.

"We believe it is a setback, but we believe it is also positive in the sense that the expected levels were much higher," Mr Camara said.

"There was a lot of burning on the ground in the second half of 2007, which could have led to a much greater increase in deforestation."

In late 2007 and early 2008 there were signs that deforestation was on the rise again - with land said to be in demand for cattle and soya at a time when commodity prices were high, says the BBC's Garry Duffy in Sao Paulo.

Many had expected an increase of 30-40% and we managed to stabilise it
Carlos Minc
Brazilian Environment Minister
In response the government announced a series of measures to clamp down on illegal logging, including a major operation involving police and environmental inspectors known as the "Arc of Fire".

Brazil's Environment Minister, Carlos Minc, said that without actions like this, the figures could have been much higher.

"Many had expected an increase of 30-40% and we managed to stabilise it," Mr Minc told a news conference.

But he said that the government was still not satisfied.

"We want to lower numbers even more. We want zero deforestation."

Environmental groups will be watching the situation carefully to see if the resolve and the resources they say are needed to protect the Amazon region are in place, our correspondent says.

The Rainforest, Amazon Children & People

Tearing down the Amazon Rainforest with massive heavily bladed machines is seriously displacing thousands of Indigenous tribes. In the year 1500 there were an estimated approximately 9 million Indigenous people inhabiting the Rainforests. By the year 1900 there were barely 1,000,00 Indigenous people and now there is less than 250,000. The reason for this is that more and more outsiders ventured into the Amazon. Some of the first plunderers were silver and gold mine prospectors. These mining company's some of the first coming from Spain, forced the Rainforest people, often at gun point, into mainly silver mines. Millions of Rainforest people had no option but to go down into these mines. It is said that over 1 million Rainforest people lost their lives in these mines, often agonisingly choking to death in the dust 700ft below the surface. Later rubber gatherers, enterprise merchants and raiding oil companies forced their way into the Rainforest.

These unscrupulous men plundered villages, raped Indigenous women, enslaved the young men and murdered others. Many Indigenous people also died from diseases brought in by strangers to which they had no resistance. Diseases such as influenza, small pox, measles, tuberculosis, malaria and chicken pox, these diseases were never heard of before by the Rainforest people.

 
Mum & Baby

 Indigenous Rainforest Mum holding her Baby

 

The Rainforest people are trying hard to survive in the face of change and they are confused and worrried and they cannot understand why they are slowly being driven off their Rainforest home land. The Rainforest people have had such a difficult and bad time ovfer the years, they need our help more than ever. Help to stop unscrupulous giant corporations from driving them off their home land and making them homeless. Help to stop loggers from cutting down more and more trees and clearing the areas where they live. Business giants do not care about the Rainforest people or the environment. They only care about making money.

Rainforest people know and understand that destruction of the Rainforest brings only devastation and they know that the Rainforests have to be properly managed for the forest people and wildlife to survive. But fat cat giants and corporations pretend that all is well. But it is well known that all they want to do is take, destroy and accumulate massive bank accounts. Threatening people's lives, homes and wildlife means nothing to these fat cat business giants and even some governments. Sometimes nature strikes back and you can see this by what is happening all around the world.

Amazon Logs

Illegal Amazon Logging

If we don't stop this deforestation and giant corporations and governments destroying the Rainforests, soon there will be no Rainforests or Indigenous Rainforest people or wildlife left.

Let's work together and we can make the difference to save our planet earth.

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Father & Son

 Indigenous Father & Son In The Rainforest

 
The Amazon

 The Sad World Of Deforestation Of Our Rainforests

Why are we losing our truely amazing Rainforests that once covered over 14% of planet earth? Why are we allowing the Rainforests to slowly disappear, so now there is only a mere 6% of the worlds Rainforests left, and there is rumours that withi 50 years most of the Rainforests will be gone!

Every 5 seconds 7.5 acres of Rainforests are lost. Rainforests are lost because of short sighted Governments and Multi-National logging companies who pay only £1.00 per acre for logging concessions in the Amazon. For instance Japan is the largest importer of tropical woods. Japans average tropical timber import is 11 million cubic meters. Annually, this is appallingly too much!

The demand for tropical hardwood timber is damaging the tropical lands and it makes sense that this cannot be sustained. One of the terrible destructive machines that ruthlessly plough's through the Rainforest is a massive 15 ton machine with a huge 8ft (approximately 2.5 meters) cutting disc that has 8 blades and revolves at 320 times a minute. These machines cut down over 200 species of trees in minutes, which shockingly ends up as woodchip, for the woodchip board industries.

Due to this deforestation devation nearly half of the world's species of plants, animals and micro-organisms could be destroyed over the next 30 years. As the Rainforests disappear so do so many possible cures for life threatening diseases. The Amazon Rainforest alone covers over a billion acres encompassing areas in Brazil, Venezuela, Columbia and the eastern Andean region of Ecuador and Peru. The Amazon Rainforest has been described as the "Lungs of the Earth" because it providex the essential environmental recycling of Carbon Dioxide into Oxygen and more that 20% of the world's oxygen is produced in the Amazon Rainforest. Did you know that our fruits, Avocados, Coconuts, Figs, Oranges, Lemons, Grapefruits, Banana's, Guavas, Pineapple, Mangoes and Tomatoes, and vegetables including Corn, Potatoes, Rice, Winter Squash and Yams and Spices like Black Pepper, Cayenne, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger, Sugar cane, Turmeric, Coffee and Vanilla and nuts including Brazil and Cashew nuts all came from the Rainforests. More than half the world's estimated 10 million species of plants, animals and insects live in the tropical Rainforests. Something else that will amaze you! One fifth of the world's fresh water is in the Amazon basin.

Experts agree that by leaving the Rainforests intact and harvesting its many nut, fruit, oil producing plans and medicine plants, the Rainforest has more economical value than if they were cut down to make grazing land, or for timber. The Rainforests oxygen benefits the world.

The US National Cancer Institute has identified 3000 plants that are active against cancer cells. 70% of these plants are found in the Rainforests. 25% of the active ingredients in today's cancer fighting drugs come from organisms found in the Rainforests. For example, Vincristine, an extract from a Rainforest plant called Periwinkle, is one of the world's most powerful anti-cancer drugs. It has dramatically increased the survival rate of acute childhood Leukaemia since it's discovery.

Today, more than half of the Rainforests have gone up in smoke. In less than 50 years more than half of the worlds tropical Rainforests have fallen victim to fire and the chain saw. The rate of destruction is still accelerating. Unvelievably, more than 200,000 acres of Rainforests are burned every day, thats a million acres every 5 days.

Amazon Fire
Illegal Burning of the Rainforest

Massive deforestation brings with it many ugly consequences; here are just some; water pollution, soil erosion, malaria epidemiccs, the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the eviction and decimation of Indigenous Rainforest tribes and the loss of biodiversity through extinction of plants and animals.

Fewer Rainforests mean less rain, less oxygen for us to breath and an increased threat from Global Warming.

Please help us in our campaign.

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