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  Yahoo News 12 Jun 07
U.N.: Orangutans' survival faces threat
By Arthur Max

PlanetArk 5 Jun 07
Logging May Wreck Orangutan Forests in Decade - UN
Story by Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

NETHERLANDS: June 12, 2007 THE HAGUE - Illegal logging could destroy the last forest strongholds of orangutans within a decade and the world should do more to help Indonesia halt smuggling both of apes and of timber, a UN report said on Monday.

Burning of forests, sometimes to clear land to grow palm oil for biofuels, was adding to threats to endangered orangutans which live on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, according to a report issued at a UN wildlife conference.

"Indonesia cannot and should not have to deal with this issue alone," Achim Steiner, the head of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said in a statement.

He urged more funding for wardens and a global customs crackdown on illegal trade.

"It is very clear ... that there is a highly organised structure of illegal trade in orangutans," said Willem Wijnstekers, Secretary General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

China was the main destination for illegally logged timber from orangutan regions, mainly in Indonesia, but much of it also ended up in Japan, the European Union and the United States, according to UNEP.

Hundreds of orangutans were believed to have been exported, often caught as they fled loggers. Young orangutans had been spotted in zoos in Thailand and Cambodia.

"Satellite images, together with data from the Indonesian government, indicates that illegal logging is now taking place in 37 out of 41 national parks and that suitable forest habitat (for orangutans) may be gone in as little as a decade," it said.

A United Nations report in 2002, which raised alarm about the plight of the apes, had projected that most of the habitat suitable for orangutans would be lost by 2032. In February, UNEP had put the date at 2022.

"We are bringing the date forward again," said Christian Nellemann, a lead author of the report. "The rate of decline of the forests is the fastest we have seen anywhere in the world."

UNEP praised Indonesia for cracking down on loggers by seizing 70,000 cubic metres of processed wood, enough to fill 3,000 trucks, in East Kalimantan province and arresting several people in the past few weeks.

But UNEP's Steiner said: "This must be set against the fact that by some estimates illegal logging is clearing 2.1 million hectares of forest in Indonesia annually worth an estimated US$4 billion.

"This may equate to several hundred thousand truckloads -- corresponding to a continuous line of trucks from Paris to Bangkok," he added. UNEP estimated there might be between 45,000 and 69,000 orangutans in Borneo and 7,300 in Sumatra.

Yahoo News 12 Jun 07
U.N.: Orangutans' survival faces threat
By Arthur Max

Indonesia's tropical rain forests are disappearing 30 percent faster than previously estimated as illegal loggers raid national parks, threatening the long-term survival of orangutans, according to a U.N. report released Monday.

Loggers are clearing an estimated 5.2 million acres of forest a year for timber worth $4 billion, said the U.N. Environment Program report, which was released at the triennial meeting of the 171-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

Earlier forecasts said Indonesia's lowland rain forests would be seriously degraded by 2032.

But projections based on new satellite surveillance suggest that 98 percent of the forests will be destroyed by 2022, and many protected areas for orangutans will be gone by 2012, the report said.

Only about 7,000 Sumatran orangutans and 50,000 Borneo orangutans remain in the wild.

The number of Sumatran orangutans has fallen 91 percent in the last century, based on studies of the number of apes in today's forests, said Ian Redmond, of UNEP's Great Apes Survival Project, which carried out the study.

"The populations are crashing dramatically," the project's Melanie Virtue said.

Orangutans fleeing overlogged areas have ended up in "refugee camps" run by the UNEP project or in Indonesian rescue centers, which now hold about 1,000 orangutans.

The report said the illegal trade in young orangutans for private zoos and safari parks has increased to "significant numbers," without specifying further.

A 1975 CITES treaty prohibits all trade in orangutans except by special permit. Orangutans breed once every seven years, meaning their numbers struggle to recover even without the destruction of their habitat.

But the report said they have shown they can survive selective logging.

Orangutan numbers dropped in two parts of Sumatra island after large trees were extracted from the forest, but rebounded as the forest regenerated, the report said.

The report estimated up to 88 percent of all Indonesian timber was logged illegally, with illegal loggers operating in 37 of Indonesia's 41 national parks.

Further habitat pressure is coming from the clearing of forests to make room for palm oil tree plantations to meet the growing appetite for biofuels, it said.

There was some good news: Indonesian authorities recently intercepted shipments totaling 2.4 million cubic feet about 3,000 truckloads of illegal timber and arrested several people, according to the report. But Virtue said the international community must take a stand.

"We are urging consumer nations to do more to ensure the timber they import is legal," she said.

Authorities Step Up Action against Illegal Loggers Threatening the Last Orang-Utans on the UNEP website

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