Martin W

A more upbeat email from rainforest portal: Indonesian Rainforest Victory as Large Orangutan Habitat Safe for Now from Oil Palm Ecological Internet’s Earth Action Network Spearheads Major Victory for Rainforest Movement

May 15, 2006 By Rainforest Portal, a project of Ecological Internet, Inc.,

Under intense international pressure the Indonesian government has virtually abandoned plans to convert large areas of ancient rainforests, prime habitat for the endangered Orangutan, into a massive oil palm plantation. The original plan called for 1.8 million hectares (nearly 7,000 square miles or 18,000 square kilometers) of mainly native forests to be converted into a mega oil palm plantation along over 850 kilometers of the Indonesia- Malaysia border. In an abrupt about-face, the Agriculture Minister (formerly the project’s chief advocate) last week announced only 180,000 hectares are now deemed suitable for oil palm development.

Given long-standing objections by the Forestry and Environment ministries, the larger project is effectively dead for now. International protest in support of local rainforest peoples and conservationists is responsible for reducing the project’s expanse by 90%. "Destruction of ancient rainforests and other habitat worldwide is now an international as well as local issue, as the Internet has globalized movements for rainforest conservation and global ecological sustainability," notes Dr. Glen Barry, President of Ecological Internet. "Those that participated in the campaign must celebrate; because of their action, millions of year old ancient rainforest treasures have been given a reprieve." While many groups are active in orangutan conservation and protection of the "Heart of Borneo", Ecological Internet was the first to launch a major Internet campaign on the matter. In Ecological Internet’s largest email protest ever, their network bombarded the Indonesian government with several hundred thousand protest emails. Ecological Internet’s international network grew by over 20% as the campaign surged across the Internet. Several other organizations carried out letter writing campaigns based upon their campaign strategies and information.

"Indonesia’s rainforests remain critically endangered, and their continued widespread loss threatens regional ecosystem sustainability and development potential. But for the time being, a huge swathe of very special and important ancient rainforests will remain intact. Our next immediate priority is to continue protesting China’s plans to log other Indonesian rainforests for Olympic construction."

The announcement does not mean vital orangutan habitat has achieved meaningful permanent protection. Ecological Internet’s network will continue to protest any oil palm development there and anywhere in primary rainforests, remain vigilante against a resurrection of the project as originally conceived, and monitor logging concessions and illegal logging in the area. And Indonesia’s informal commitment to fully protect the "Heart of Borneo" with Malaysia and Brunei will continue to be supported. Dr. Barry notes "this successful international protest shows what is possible when grassroots organizations seek an end to ancient forest destruction, rather than the big groups negotiating acceptable logging volumes. The age of industrial development of ancient forests is over – even governments and loggers are getting the message."