Several news sources are reporting a startling warning from a UN Report which foreshadows that if illegal logging in South-East Asian forests continues at the rate it operating on, there are dire implications for orang-utans. Specifically, if no action is taken, the report estimates that 98% of forests on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo will be gone by 2022; leaving the 60,000 or so orang-utans without an ecosystem to sustain off of.

The UNEP report, “The Last Stand of the Orangutan,” also reports that the cause of the destruction of the rain forests is driven mainly by well-organized but shadowy timber-supply networks that feed the ever growing international market. You can download the entire report (~ 20MB) over here. Here’s an excerpt from the National Geographic News article, “Orangutan Habitat May Be Gone in 15 Years, UN Report Says,”

“The report estimates that tens of millions of cubic meters of timber is illegally logged each year—more than 70 percent of all logging in Indonesia.

Approximately 20 percent of the timber is smuggled out as raw logs. The rest is processed in sawmills, pulp mills, and paper mills and then exported. The mills were built to process two to five times more timber than is legally available, according to the report.

Satellite imagery collected in 2006, together with data from the Indonesian government, confirms that illegal logging is now taking place in 37 out of the country’s 41 national parks.

The overall logging rate is about 30 percent higher than estimated in a similar report the UN released in 2002. Experts then believed orangutan habitat would be lost by 2032.”

Baby Orangutan and MotherYou maybe wondering what is being done about this? This is a devastating statistic to even consider, and the rate of destruction seems to be exponentially snow-balling out of control.

Bureaucratically the European Union and Indonesia agreed to negotiate a pact aimed at ending illegal logging. A month ago they created a deal to first screen and verify legal forest products and then import them into the EU. All others would be shut out from conducting business… And Washington and Indonesia signed a similar pact last year. But, I don’t think that will solve the problem. People will still log illegally despite being verified or not especially to meet the demands of other nations who won’t abide by this trade deal.

The best that I can think of, at this moment, is to consciously reduce our dependence on paper products. A significant number of us who reduce the amount of paper we use will make an outstanding impact on the logging industry. So next time you feel like printing that 52 page UN report out on PDF, read it on the computer screen. A lot of orang-utan’s habitats and livelihood is at stake here.

Other sources reporting on this news:

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