Activists in Indonesia protest against deforestation for palm oil production

Orange tiger with black stripes sleeping on his side
A sleeping Sumatran tiger, Photo by Sam on Unsplash

Palm oil production is destroying the homes of critically endangered animals

Environmental activists protested on Thursday against deforestation for palm oil production. Palm oil is globally used, mostly in food. India, China, Pakistan, the Netherlands and Spain are the biggest importers of palm oil.

The protestors are against deforestation of the Rawa Singkil Wildlife Reserve, one of Indonesia’s peat swamp forests, in the South Aceh district.

Rawa Singkil is home to critically endangered Sumatran tigers, Sumatran elephants, Sumatran Rhinos, orangutans and many other wild animals.

Indonesia is the biggest producer of palm oil in the world. In 2019 alone, an area of forest half the size of Belgium was burned for plantations.

On MondayIndonesia along with 127 other countries pledged to end deforestation by 2030. But on Wednesday, Indonesia’s environment minister, Siti Nurbaya Bakar, had dismissed the plan as “inappropriate and unfair”.

“Forcing Indonesia to zero deforestation in 2030 is clearly inappropriate and unfair,” Bakar said on Twitter on Wednesday. She said definitions of deforestation differed widely, so imposing European standards on Indonesia was one-sided.

“You can’t compare Indonesia with other countries, especially if you only rely on numbers on paper,” she added.

On Thursday, Mahendra Siregar, Indonesia’s vice foreign minister, said that zero deforestation by 2030 was not even part of the COP26 pledge.

“The declaration issued does not refer at all to the ‘end deforestation by 2030’,” he said in a statement. “It is important to move beyond mere narrative, rhetoric, arbitrary targets and sound bites,” he added.

The almost immediate pull-back of the promise by Indonesia triggered outrage on social media and among environmental activists. “The statement is profoundly disappointing,” said Kiki Taufik, head of Greenpeace’s Indonesian forests campaign.

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