Wild Orangutan Habitat Deforested by Secretive Group

Featured image courtesy of mongabay.com

On March 22nd, 2021, Mongabay reported that a secretive group, called the Nusantara Fiber, was responsible for the most deforestation by the industrial forestry industry in Indonesia over the last 5 years.

While this group is responsible for significant damage to Indonesian forests, there seems to be little known about the organization. The identity of the owners is unknown due to the offshore jurisdiction of Samoa, where the group’s parent company (Green Meadows Holding Ltd.) is registered. This offshore jurisdiction allows the owners of companies to be protected from liabilities, obligations, and accountability in the areas in which it operates.

Historical records on the group have also found a possible link between Nusantara Fiber and the pulpwood/palm oil conglomerate, Royal Golden Eagle, though RGE has denied any connection.

The Nusantara Fiber group controls 242,000 hectares (598,000 acres) of industrial tree plantations in the Bornean provinces of West, Central, and East Kalimantan. The group’s permits were acquired mostly from the years ranging from 2009 to 2011 and began deforesting the areas to develop plantations in 2016.

An analysis done by a research consultancy called Aidenvironment used satellite imagery, forest cover maps, and Global Forest Watch maps to identify that from 2016-2020, Nusantara Fiber has cleared approximately 26,000 hectares (64,200 acres) of forests. This makes this group the top contributor to deforestation compared to all other groups associated with industrial deforestation in Indonesia during this time period.

The forest areas lost to this group were still precious to the ecosystem, even if they may have been classified as secondary or degraded forests.

In 2016, there were reports that one of the areas concessioned by one of Nusantara Fiber’s subsidiaries, Industrial Forest Plantation in the Kapuas district of Central Kalimantan, overlapped with a known habitat of Bornean orangutan (P. p. wurmbii). Another 2014 assessment that was commissioned by IFP also found orangutans within concession boundaries, along with other protected plants and animals.

Though these assessments identified protected and critically endangered species in these areas, IFP went on to deforest 10,700 hectares (26,400 acres) between 2016 and late 2020, with most of the deforestation taking place between 2019 and 2020.

Read more at mongabay.com

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