Leuser ecosystem

Leuser still exploited by palm oil companies despite moratorium: NGO

The Rainforest Action Network (RAN), a California-based environmental group, has released a report showing that palm oil companies operating in the Leuser Ecosystem in Aceh are still clearing forests despite a national moratorium. The report titled "Protecting the Leuser Ecosystem," which was released recently, states that Landsat satellite imagery showed palm oil concessionaires clearing 294 hectares of forest between July and September. "While in July 2016, 38 hectares of forest were lost in Leuser concessions, this increased to 58 hectares in August 2016. September 2016 satellite analysis showed more than a threefold increase over the previous month, with a loss of 199 hectares of forest," the report says. According to the report, 7,187 hectares of forest and peatland were destroyed in Aceh province between January and September. After the moratorium was announced in April, a circular letter was distributed by the Aceh governor in June, proving that palm oil companies are still disregarding the order to halt forest clearance. RAN identified the six biggest culprits as Tegas Nusantara, Surya Panen Subur II, Agra Bumi Niaga, Tualang Raya, Aloer Timur, Dua Perkasa Lestari and Putra Kumia.
RAN believes the moratorium has had a positive effect on the region, but that urgent and stern action is needed to avoid repeating the 2015 haze crisis and to conserve the critically threatened Leuser Ecosystem. "Halting the destruction of forests and peatlands – and stopping the forest fires, often intentionally set to aid the expansion of industrial palm oil development – will reduce Indonesia's carbon footprint, the severity of the annual haze crisis and secure the lives and livelihoods of countless communities," Matthews said.
As palm oil is in high demand in the food industry, RAN warned major global players such as PepsiCo, Kraft Heinz, Nissin Foods, Toyo Suisan and Tyson Foods and Snack Food 20 that they are at a high risk of sourcing palm oil that was grown at the expense of the Leuser Ecosystem. RAN also noted that three palm oil giants, Wilmar, Musim Mas and Golden Agri Resources, play a vital role in combating this issue as their suppliers are in the region, especially by pushing for sustainable palm oil practices, including traceability. "These companies control over 50 percent of the global market and have the ability to make huge impacts in their supply chains," the report said.

Palm oil company caught destroying primary forest in endangered ecosystem

Activists have documented a palm oil company destroying lowland rainforest in Sumatra’s endangered Leuser Ecosystem. Last month, Rainforest Action Network (RAN) reported that PT. Tualang Raya was clearing rainforest in Aceh Timur. The group released pictures taken by Paul Hilton as evidence. RAN’s allegations are supported by independent data from Global Forest Watch, a platform for monitoring changes in forests worldwide. Global Forest Watch’s data shows a significant amount of activity within Tualang Raya’s concession over the past 18 months, including a number for FORMA alerts which use NASA MODIS satellite data to provide near-real time monitoring of changes in forest cover. According to Global Forest Watch, Tualang Raya destroyed at least 1,250 hectares of degraded primary forest between 2005 and 2014 in its 5,140-hectare concession, accounting for most of its clearing during that period.