Successes in Sumatra Bring Hope for Wildlife
For Release: Oct 09, 2008
“We, all the governors of Sumatra…..” With those words began an historic island-wide agreement to protect Sumatra’s biodiversity. This landmark decision will restore critical ecosystems, protect high conservation value forests – including those that store high levels of carbon – and create ecosystem-based plans to guide environmentally friendly development on the island. WWF applauds this commitment, and believes it is the best chance we’ve ever had to save Sumatra’s forests and species.
Species on the Brink
Saving Sumatra is critical for conservation, as it’s the only place in the world where tigers, elephants, rhinos and orangutans co-exist. But these magnificent creatures are disappearing as their forest homes are cut for pulp and palm oil production. This cause-and-effect is alarmingly clear in Sumatra’s Riau Province – a deforestation hotspot. Over the last 25 years, it has lost 65 percent of its forests – resulting in an 84 percent decline in Sumatran elephant populations and a 70 percent decline in its Sumatran tiger populations. If deforestation continues both could soon be locally extinct.
These disturbing trends extend to the entire island, as Sumatra has what is perhaps the world’s highest deforestation rate. Since 1985 the island has lost 48 percent of its forests – an area roughly the size of Pennsylvania. These forests are important not only for the island’s biodiversity, but the world’s climate as well. Sumatra’s peat forests are believed to sit atop Southeast Asia’s largest store of peat carbon, a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions when disturbed. WWF research confirms that the pulp and paper industry, led by global giants APP and APRIL, has surpassed the palm oil industry as the biggest contributor to forest loss in central Sumatra.
Pressuring the Pulp & Paper Industry
With APP, WWF no longer engages with the company and is advocating that all APP customers and businesses cut ties with APP because of its continued irresponsible logging practices that are destroying crucial elephant and tiger habitat – and releasing vast amounts of greenhouse gases in the process.
APRIL, the other international paper giant operating in Sumatra, has made a global commitment to protect all high conservation value forests under its control. WWF is working with APRIL to protect and manage crucial habitats and peat lands and implement this agreement. At the same time, we are asking APRIL customers to work closely with WWF to monitor and audit the company’s performance against its own commitments.
Through the Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN), WWF is reminding GFTN members that participant companies must phase out “unwanted sources,” such as purchasing from companies that extract wood unsustainably. WWF is also asking financial institutions not to do business with companies that produce unsustainable wood products.
Just in Time on Sumatra
WWF is celebrating this major conservation victory and working around the world to achieve similar results. There is now renewed hope in Sumatra, as this eleventh-hour reprieve comes on the heels of another recent win – the expansion of Tesso Nilo National Park to more than double its previous size. Both achievements are the result of WWF’s successful partnerships, local-to-global strategy and foundation in solid science. We will continue offering the technical, financial and advocacy support to make the Sumatran declaration a reality on the ground.
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