Human activities – in particular deforestation, poaching and wildfires – have been catastrophic for orangutans and lead to the loss of orangutan habitats and the decline of orangutan populations. But despite being critically endangered, the orangutan is still alive and kicking! Thus, there still is time to implement holistic but strict solutions to halt the loss of orangutan habitats and the decline of orangutan populations.
The future of the orangutan is heavily debated as ongoing habitat destruction, illegal wildlife trade and hunting cause declining populations. The vulnerability of the orangutan is best revealed in the palm oil debate. It is true that palm oil is a major threat to orangutans. Unsustainable practices such as deforestation, forest fires and habitat fragmentation put the future of viable orangutan populations at risk. The palm oil sector is especially relevant because the majority of orangutans live outside protected areas. (In fact, in Borneo alone, over 10,000 orangutans live in areas allocated for industrial oil palm.) Here orangutans live in degraded forest, isolated forest patches in a plantation landscape. But they are still there and can play an important role if we want to connect and protect orangutans in the wild.
Orangutan Habitat Loss
We believe that orangutans are best protected in their natural habitat. Sadly, much of this habitat is impacted by human activity: such as oil palm and timber plantations, logging, mining and small farms, for example. Only 36% of orangutan habitat is located in protected areas, while 49% is located in timber concessions, 9% in tree plantations and 6% in oil palm estates (see image right).
That means you have to work with people living and working in orangutan habitat if you want make an impact. We condemn unsustainable practices such as deforestation, use of fire and harm of wildlife in and around plantation areas. But we support and encourage those plantation companies that save and protect forest on their land, plant trees to create wildlife corridors and manage orangutans on their plantations.
Orangutan Population Decline
Our Theory of Change
Whether we like it or not, human activities occur throughout much of the remaining orangutan habitat and exacerbate its loss and the decline of orangutan populations. That’s why we choose to work with sustainable palm oil companies that protect forest and plant buffer zones and corridors to conserve orangutans in the wild.
>>How does OLT address the three main drivers: (1) Deforestation for commercial agriculture and silviculture, (2) poaching orangutans for bushmeat and the pet trade and (3) wildfires linked to climate change and slash-and-burn practices?<< what does OLT do to address orangutan habitat loss and orangutan population decline???<<
Everyone can play a part to support solutions for the survival of the orangutan. By demanding only sustainable, deforestation-free ingredients in the products we buy, we can change the way the palm oil industry operates to one that protects wildlife and their habitats.
- Wiggs, C and J Cunningham 2022 Orangutan landscapes at risk: The role of industrial tree concessions in protecting key forest habitats (Aidenvironment), PDF accessed 1 August 2022
Read more about our solutions in our latest posts.
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