Sunday, October 23, 2005

Make yourself heard. Speak up for the orangutans.

Call to Action!

Please write to any and all of these addresses, requesting that the management immediately addresses the palm oil crisis and the destruction of prime habitat for orangutans. 25,000,000 hectares of already deforested land stands empty whilst areas of forest that we filmed for the documentary are being destroyed right now for palm oil plantations.

This land was rainforest last year. Borneo 2005

Palm oil needs to be labelled on all products that contain it, and palm oil must be sourced responsibly. We as consumers should not be in a position of contributing to needless destruction each time we shop. It is the clear responsibility of the supermarkets to pressure the industry and find palm oil from non-destructive sources.
In the letter below please
- type your name and return address
- copy and paste the supermarket addresses provided
- print the document out
- sign it
- post it off today


Letter writing campaigns have proven to be very effective in the past and we believe this will make a bigger impact than yet another circular email ever would. For the cost of an envelope and a stamp, and a few minutes of your time, you are playing a vital role in preventing the eradication of yet another species.

You can send a letter to one supermarket or to both of them - it's up to you - but the more companies you write to the greater the impact and the more chance we have to save the Orangutans! We would like to point out that since starting this campaign ASDA, Waitrose and Sainsburys have all signed up to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil which is brilliant. We just need Tesco and Morrisons to follow this good example.

One final request (optional but very helpful). Please can you send an email addressed to Nick or Evie at letting us know which supermarkets you have sent letters to. This will allow us to track how many letters each of the supermarkets receive and help us bring pressure to bear on them.

Sir Terry Leahy
Chief executive
Tesco House
Delamare Road
Hertfordshire EN8 9SL

Sir Kenneth D Morrison CBE
Executive Chairman
Wm Morrison Supermarkets
Plc.Thornton Road
Bradford BD8 9AX

The Letter

Your Address

22nd October 2005

The Supermarket Address

Dear Sir or Madam,

It has recently come to my attention that, as a direct consequence of my actions as a consumer, the Orangutan is in imminent danger of becoming extinct. As a regular customer of yours I would like you to help me make informed purchase decisions and help prevent this wonderful species going into terminal decline.

Palm oil is used in 1 in 10 of all consumables sold in British supermarkets (though it is often labelled as vegetable oil). Two of the main areas where it is produced are Borneo and Sumatra – the only two islands where orangutans still exist in the wild. Rainforests are being converted to oil palm plantations at an alarming rate, despite the existence of over 25 million hectares of previously-cleared land In Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) alone. The rainforest targeted for new plantations is the last remaining habitat of species such as the Orangutan which, at the current rate of population decline, are likely to be extinct by the end of this decade. Not only is the Orangutan threatened by loss of habitat, but palm oil plantation workers are also deliberately killing animals when they enter plantations, as they are perceived to be a threat to their crops.

Many hardwood products carry labels that show that they have not been sourced from fragile rainforest. In a similar way, I would like your company to clearly label products containing palm oil sourced from plantations that have not involved forest conversion, and withdraw palm oil based products that you cannot guarantee have come from sustainable sources. I have written to all the major British supermarkets and think that it would be very good PR for you to be the first to take a strong moral stance on this issue.

I do not believe that your company is aware of the role that it is playing in forcing the Orangutan to the brink of extinction (this issue has only recently come to light) but for further background information please see:

Also please see below some shocking facts that I hope will encourage you to take immediate action.

I look forward to receiving information on your company’s policy regarding palm oil. If a policy does not already exist, please tell me what steps you will be taking to ensure that I can shop in your store safe in the knowledge that I am not contributing to wiping out yet another species.

With thanks in advance,

Your Name

Killer facts:

According to the Indonesian Forestry Department the Orangutan population in 1990 was 200,000. In the year 2000 there were only 50,000 Orangutans left. Their demise is directly attributable to the encroachment of the palm oil plantations on their habitat.

The Bornean Orangutan Survival Foundation estimates that if palm oil concessions continue to replace forest at the current rate then within 3 years a viable future for the orangutan in the wild will be impossible. This means that by 2008, if action is not urgently taken, then Orangutans will have reached the point of no return.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Little Bigfoot on the run!

Here is a real example of a fish out of water - a siamang forced to come down to the ground to cross a forest clearance to reach better forest patches with fresh leaves and fruiting trees. The siamang is a stunning gibbon found in Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula. Sadly it is endangered and becomming more so as palm oil reduces its natural habitat. Traditional beliefs in central Sumatra prevent people from hunting the siamang. Without their haunting dawn chorus the Rimba people don't believe the sun will rise. Well we will be facing dark days indeed if palm oil expansion and forest conversion continues at its current rate.

This picture is a composite of 13 frames from our film: "Another Crude Oil", documenting the rise and rise of the palm oil industry, and the fall of the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. Whilst filmming we heard numerous stories of how palm oil developers were purposefully encircling small patches of forest, cutting them off from the larger stretches and then working their way inwards until animals would make a dash for it. Hunters would be waiting. Not local subsistence hunters, but sport hunters, police and army officials. This is organised hunting of protected species.