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Activists call on government to revoke permits as company continues to destroy critical forests: 'It's obvious that these areas have to be protected'

It's clear that this destructive activity is directly impacting the orangutan population.

It's clear that this destructive activity is directly impacting the orangutan population.

Photo Credit: iStock

Earlier this year, researchers shed light on severe deforestation on the island of Borneo. Investigation revealed that Indonesian company PT Mayawana Persada, ultimately owned by billionaire Sukanto Tanoto of Royal Golden Eagle Group, was allegedly to blame. 

Unfortunately, despite orders by the government to stop its activities, the company is still removing trees and destroying vital Bornean orangutan habitat, Mongabay reported.

What's happening?

Royal Golden Eagle Group is a conglomerate based in Singapore that deals in paper and palm oil. In 2015, the group committed to a policy of "zero deforestation."

However, through a chain of holding companies, Royal Golden Eagle controls Mayawana Persada. In March, Mayawana Persada was found to have destroyed peatland areas on the island of Borneo, totaling over 100 square miles. 

The forest, once home to an endangered species of orangutan, has now been converted to pulpwood plantations. The report linking Royal Golden Eagle and Mayawana Persada called this "one of Indonesia's biggest ongoing cases of deforestation."

Indonesia's Ministry of Environment and Forestry ordered the company to stop clearing forests in the area on March 28 and to start restoration on the damaged areas. However, Mongabay reported that Mayanawa Persada has continued clearing peatland despite the order.

Why is this decision important?

It's clear that this destructive activity is directly impacting the orangutan population. Investigators found 31 orangutan nests in the affected area.

Sayyidatiihayaa Afra G. Raseukiy, a policy researcher at the Indonesian environmental group Satya Bumi, told Mongabay, "It's obvious that these areas have to be protected due to the presence of the orangutan nests."

Aside from the endangered orangutans and the ecosystems being harmed, Mayawana Persada is hurting the entire world as well. Rainforests and peat-rich lands are a "carbon sink," meaning that they trap and hold carbon that could otherwise create heat-trapping air pollution. 

As more carbon sinks are destroyed, the world will get hotter, with serious health effects and financial consequences for humanity — and we're already set to have the hottest five years in history.

What's being done about this deforestation?

A coalition of NGOs investigating this disaster has called on Indonesia's government to take further steps now that Mayawana Persada has blatantly ignored the initial order, Mongabay revealed. The coalition recommends revoking the company's license to operate.

"Based on the findings of unbridled activities by pulpwood company PT Mayawana Persada, we hope that the Indonesian minister of environment and forestry takes a stern action with her authority to revoke the concession's permits," said Hendrikus Adam, the director of the West Kalimantan chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment.

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