Emergency action is needed to ensure survival of the orangutan, a new United Nations report warned Tuesday. The great apes' only habitat, the Indonesian rainforest, is being destroyed at a rate up to 30 percent higher than previously thought by illegal logging, fire, and clearing for palm oil plantations. The report, "Last stand of the orangutan: State of emergency," says the natural rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo are being cleared so rapidly that without urgent action up to 98 percent may be destroyed by 2022. This assessment moves up the UN's estimated date of Indonesian forest destruction by 10 years due to an acceleration in the past five years of illegal logging, estimated to account for more than 73 percent of all logging in Indonesia.
"Without direct intervention in the parks, orangutans and other forest-dependent wildlife will become progressively scarcer, until their populations are no longer viable in the long-term," according to the Rapid Response report from the UN Environment Programme, UNEP.
The scale of illegal logging, even in national parks, is likely to increase not only in Indonesia, but also in other parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America, said the leader of the Rapid Response team Dr. Christian Nellemann. To save the oranguntan, Indonesia’s own efforts must be strengthened with the rapid deployment of reconnaissance units, removal of illegal plantations, mining and agricultural development inside the parks and enhanced international law enforcement programs against illegal logging, the report advises.
UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner noted that the logging is not done "by individual impoverished people, but by well-organized elusive commercial networks," and he called on the international community to aid the Indonesian authorities with equipment, training and funding to patrol their national parks from illegal loggers.