The loss of the rainforest in Borneo & Sumatra is staggering. In December 2001, the Indonesian State Ministry of Environment estimated that between 5 million to 6 million acres of rain forest are destroyed each year. The United Nations Environmental Program called the situation an emergency in February 2007. Orangutan habitat is being lost at a rate 30% faster than previously thought, according to their report. Unless extreme action is taken soon, 98% of these forests could be gone in as little as 15 years, and wild orangutans along with them. Based on recent surveys, conservationists believe that only 30,000-40,000 orangutans remain in the wild.
Large-scale illegal logging is occurring at an unabated rate throughout Borneo and Sumatra in national parks like Tanjung Puting, Gunung Palung, and Gunung Leuser and other protected areas. Nearby regions of orangutan habtat are being converted to palm oil plantations that displace the great apes. In fact,the recent crisis in the sensitive Tripa Peat Swamps in Aceh, Sumatra paints an even grimmer future, with researchers predicting the remaining 200 orangutans have only a few years remaining, if the fires and conversion to palm oil continue unabated.
The Governor of Aceh and the legislature of Aceh approved an ill-advised forest spatial plan that threatens the moratorium status on forest development and puts 1.2 million hectares (3 million acres) of protected forest onto the road towards conversion into palm oil plantations, mining operations, logging concessions, and a "spiderweb" of road development. The Tripa swamp would loose its protected status. The plan is now on the desk of the President of Indonesia waiting final approval.
Sadly, if human beings do not significantly alter the course of their behavior regarding the orangutan and the forests they live in, critical biodiversity, consisting of rare endangered fauna, more than 40 species of mammals and 200 species of exotic birds, could soon follow to extinction.
Our mission is therefore one of immediacy and global importance.