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The habitats of iconic endangered species like tigers, orangutans, and rhinoceros are going up in flames, and being replaced with palm tree plantations.
Palm tree oil is one of the hottest commodities on the planet — it's inexpensive, trans fat-free, and can be found in roughly fifty percent of all market products, according to Rainforest Action Network. But our excessive use of palm oil has come with a significant cost: the homes and lives of the most beautiful creatures on the planet.
Indonesia leads the world in palm oil exports, but has arguably the lowest standards for regulating production. Though forest burning is illegal, few have been charged for the roughly 100,000 human-caused fires, and last year Eco-Business reported on Indonesia's newly revised Plantation Act — it now discourages palm producers from using land for habitat conservation.
In October 2015, the World Resources Institute revealed that daily emissions from Indonesian forest fires had surpassed the U.S. economy's daily emissions average. Meanwhile, Reuters warns that Southeast Asia may continue to be affected by a haze of toxic gas in the atmosphere through early 2016.
Tell the Indonesian government it's time to end this madness. Ask President Joko Widodo and his environment & forestry minister Siti Nurbaya Baker to end these crimes against nature.
Dear President Joko Widodo and Environment & Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Baker,
One of the worst environmental disasters to reach Indonesia is ongoing, and has a clear, single cause: the hunger for palm oil.
While it's understandable that the Indonesian government would want to encourage palm oil production — it's your third-highest source of capital — the current palm oil model in Indonesia is unsustainable.
This year, at least nineteen people have died from forest fires or smoke inhalation, and an unknown number of animals have undoubtedly perished too. The fire starters are responsible for a loss of 21,000 square kilometers of forest habitats, and toxic smoke from the burned-down trees has spilled into the atmosphere over Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Singapore.
Last year, you increased revenue from palm by imposing an export levy on the product. That was a step in the right direction, but you can do even more to protect the people and wildlife with whom you share a home.
Your country has some of the most beautiful people and animals on the planet. By protecting their beauty, you will be able to drive tourism, all while restoring the calm equilibrium once prevalent in Borneo.
Please redirect palm oil export revenue from the biofuel program to ecotourism and conservation initiatives, so you can raise your bottom line in a more friendly, sustainable, and intelligent manner.