According to a report released earlier this month by the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP), Last stand of the Orang-utan: State of Emergency, illegal timbering will likely drive orangutans into extinction. Reportedly, by 2022, 98% of Indonesia’s lowland forests will be gone. Mongabay.com reports,
Last Stand said that illegal loggers operate in 37 of Indonesia’s 41 national parks and that up to 88 percent of all Indonesian timber is illegally harvested. Further pressure comes from expanding oil palm plantations used to produce biodiesel. Surging international demand has lead to an explosion of land-clearing for plantations, which by early 2007 covered more than 6 million hectares in Indonesia and 4 million in Malaysia. Associated land-clearing using fires releases so much carbon dioxide that Indonesia now ranks as the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases despite having only the 22nd largest economy.
The illegal trade of live orangutans is taking place as a byproduct of illegal logging. With this level of illegal trade, 15 years could show a decline of 98% of the orangutan’s habitat. We can thank the demand for palm oil for that.