Palm oil threat

Published on April 26, 2012 at

AN AUSTRALIAN non-profit organisation has revealed a company behind palm oil plantations that threaten the lives of orangutans is from a group which is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

The Orangutan Project ( is calling for donations to rescue and rehabilitate orangutans in Borneo affected by deforestation caused by Kayung Agro Lestari (PT KAL).

PT KAL, from Austindo Nustantara Jaya Group, is currently clearing forests in West Kalimantan to make way for a palm oil plantation.

The Orangutan Project told Our World Today that the remaining forested area of the PT KAL estate contains a high-density population of orangutans and covers about 2900 hectares.

President of The Orangutan Project Leif Cocks says palm oil production in most areas is not sustainable and further deforestation will continue to harm and displace orangutans as well as destroy clean water supplies to indigenous communities.

“The palm oil industry is simply a few powerful and greedy people making vast amounts of money at the expense of the many,” Mr Cocks said.

“We are fighting not only over that last remaining fragments of rainforest, but the very survival of orangutans.”

The RSPO website states that Austindo Nustantara Jaya has been a member of the RSPO since February 2007.

The RSPO was unable to provide Our World Today with a statement regarding whether it will take action against Austindo Nustantara Jaya Group.

However, Mr Cocks says the RSPO does not greatly push companies to more sustainable efforts.

“It is arguable whether RSPO could in the future provide a forum to increase legal compliance, social responsibility, environmental responsibility and sustainability of the palm oil industry. However at the moment RSPO membership has no significance on the behavior of a company,” he said.

Austindo Nustantara Jaya Group’s website states its vision is “to become a world-class Sustainable Food and Energy company which elevates the status of the Indonesian People”.

“ANJ Agri has a commitment to deliver quality products that are environmentally-friendly, while adhering to best management practices that achieve excellent performance, ensure good employees welfare and empower the community as equal partners.”

Meanwhile, PT KAL’s website states “sustainability” and “environment-friendly” drive its operations to become a Premier Plantation Company.

Austindo Nustantara Jaya has not replied to Our World Today’s requests for an interview or statement.

The greatest threat to thesurvival of orangutans is the destruction of their habitat, which is largely due to palm oil and pulp paper plantations.

The global demand for palm oil is not easing.

Environment and animals rights group, the World Wildlife Fund, says up to half of packaged foods found in supermarkets contain palm oil, including packet chips, cereals and soap.

In fact, 97 per cent of Australia’s palm oil comes from Indonesia and Malaysia.

A Credit Suisse report highlighted that the amount of Indonesian land used to grow oil palms had increased by 8.6 million acres between 1995 and 2005. That figure equates to the world’s highest deforestation rate during that period.

According to a 2011 World Growth Report, Indonesia annually produces over 18 million tonnes of palm oil, making it one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of palm oil.

Orangutans are now only found in Borneo and Sumatra.

Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered with only 6,300 in the wild while 55,000 Bornean orangutans still exist.

The Orangutan Project is asking for donations in a bid to raise $60,000 to help rescue and rehabilitate orangutans displaced by the clearing.

The Orangutan Project is involved in rescuing injured orangutans and requires staff, anesthetics, medical supplies and transport equipment.

Rehabilitation involves improving the physical and mental health of the orangutans and learning survival skills before being released back into a safe area in the wild.

To donate or find out more information, visit


Categories: animal rights, environment, newsTags: , , , , , , ,

Brianna Piazza

Journalist and travel writer.

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