Orangutan forests are under threat of being wiped out, thanks to rampant illegal logging. The tropical forests of Southeast Asia, home to millions of wildlife species is feared of being removed from the globe of the world.
The warning comes from none other than the UN Environment Program, in the wake of incessant illegal logging that has already wiped out 2% of the forest on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo. Remaining 98% could be gone by 2022 if allowed to go on unchecked. Repercussions would be serious for not just the forests, wildlife but also for the human population directly or indirectly dependent on forests.
UNEP laments that multinational firms are continuously targeting Indonesian tropical woods for propagating their commercial timber business.
The atag2 report blames the situation is acute for the orangutans, thanks to the commercial firms who directly or indirectly smuggle timber from the country. The UNEP report, compiled using remote sensing satellite images and Indonesian government data, rues, orangutan habitat was being vanishing 30% quicker than was previously feared.
Forest fires, either intentional (to clear land to grow palm oil for biofuels) or unintentional, encroachment by farmers on their dwindling habitat and poaching, illegal logging were all adding to the threat list to endangered orangutans that live on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra.
China has been the key destination for smuggled timber from orangutan regions. Though, Japan, the European Union and the United States, stand close to China in this illegal trade.
Even in 2002, the UNEP report raised alarm about the plight of the apes, yet not serious action was taken. The dwindling number of orangutans tells the whole story. The rate of decline of the forests and its inhabitants is the fastest than anywhere in the world.
However, UNEP praised Indonesia for cracking down on loggers by seizing 70,000 cubic metres of processed wood, in East Kalimantan province. The Indonesian government made a plea to Western consumers to refuse smuggled timber and buy only Government certified wood.
In order to rein in the surging illegal logging industry, Government deployed the military to confiscate timber and hound loggers out of its parks. Ranger teams are also being trained.
But lack of funds, vehicles, weapons and equipment, hamper any safety efforts by the officials. Moreover, forest personnel face a huge threat from ruthless loggers, who are often protected by heavily armed militia.
Early this year, the European Union, which is the third largest market for Indonesian timber agreed to negotiate a pact with the country, aimed at ending illegal logging by allowing only government certified log into the continent.
The world should do more to help Indonesia arrest smuggling of timber and apes. Indonesia cannot deal with this issue alone.