Friday, March 23, 2007

Friends of the Earth and Ape Alliance 's Palm Oil Campaign wins Observer Food Monthly award

Cockroach Productions' work on Palm Oil recognised again by the Observer:

Press Release:

Friends of the Earth and Ape Alliance 's Palm Oil Campaign wins Observer Food Monthly award

Mar 22 2007

Friends of the Earth and Ape Alliance have won an Observer Food Monthly (OFM) Award for their campaign to help stop the trade in palm oil from driving the Orangutan towards extinction. The campaign was launched in 2005 in partnership with the Ape Alliance Palm Oil Working Group, which includes Orangutan Foundation, Sumatra Orangutan Society, Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation and Cockroach Productions.

Palm oil is found in one in ten products on the su permarket shelves including bread, crisps, margarine and cereals to lipstick and soap. The clearance of large tracts of rainforest in east Malaysia and Indonesia for palm oil plantations is the primary cause of the Orangutan's decline - as well as thousands of other species – these are some of the most bio-diverse forests on earth!.

Since its launch the campaign has notched up many successes including:

Attracting global attention to the devastating impact which the palm oil industry has on the Orangutan, their rainforest habitat and the communities who live alongside them.
Highlighting the need to strengthen company law so that companies are legally required to report on the social and environmental impacts of their supply chains.

Persuading all the major supermarkets to join a Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. The Roundtable is an association of business and non governmental organisations seeking to promote sustainable palm oil.

Helping to stop a mega palm oil plantation in Borneo, . The plantation would have led to the destruction of two million hectares of pristine forest - an area the size of .

Friends of the Earth is continuing to campaign to ensure UK supermarkets deliver on their pledge to use only sustainable palm oil and is working to ensure that the growing demand for biofuels doesn't lead to even greater destruction of the Orangutan's home forests. The organisation is calling on the UK Government to ensure no palm oil is imported for bio-fuel.

Friends of the Earth Palm Oil Campaigner, Ed Matthew said:

"We are delighted to have won this award. We have achieved a huge amount over the last few years but the sad fact is that the rainforest in and continues to be destroyed at an alarming rate and the Orangutan is still gravely threatened. Now the use of palm oil as a bio-fuel could push the Orangutan over the edge. The UK Government must ensure no palm oil is imported for use as bio-fuel."

The Ape Alliance Palm Oil Working Group has produced a postcard for people to send to their MPs and MEPs on the issue of palm oil and bio-fuels. Click here to find out more.

Friends of the Earth's Ed Matthews, with Helen Buckland of SOS and Ian Redmond of Ape Alliance, received the award from Alex James of Blur and Nicola Jeal, editor of OFM at a ceremony in London on 22 March. The awards, now in their fourth year, recognise and reward those who have made a contribution to the food industry for the better.

Winners were selected by a combination of OFM (OFM) reader votes and a celebrity judging panel which included: cookery expert Nigel Slater; Ruth Rogers, of the River Café; Tom Conran, restaurateur; Joanna Blythman, food writer; Jay Rayner, Observer restaurant critic; Robbie James, Waitrose; Caroline Boucher, deputy editor OFM and Nicola Jeal, OFM editor and chair of the judging panel.

For further information, contact:

Ape Alliance : 01453 765 228 or visit for contact details of the Ape Alliance Palm Oil Working Group members.

Check out the video evidence at
Contact Nick @ Films4Conservation: 01823 451 790;

Friends of the Earth
26 - 28 Underwood St.
N1 7JQ

Tel: +44 20 7490 1555
Fax: +44 20 7490 0881

Friday, March 09, 2007

Palm Oil and the Illegal Animal Trade in Indonesia

This film illustrates the links between the expansion of the palm oil industry and the booming illegal trade in endangered wildlife for pets and entertainment.

The majority of the captured animals seen in the film were being kept on palm oil plantations or nearby villages in various locations across Borneo and Sumatra. The caged gibbon is one of 300 000 captive gibbons across the Indonesian archipelago.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Dawn with the Gibbons, Central Kalimantan

Filmed by Pramudya Harzani (Cockroach Indonesia), Edited by Nick Lyon (Cockroach Productions).

Gibbon Research In Sebangau

Dr Susan Cheyne
Pre-Dawn Interview in Sebangau National Park

0400 Hours and we're setting off into the forest with Susan.

SC: "We’re now at the junction of transect zero, which is our main transect into the forest, and transect B. We’re more or less in the centre of group C’s territory, so, because we don’t know exactly where they are going to sing, we wait in the middle of the territory and that means when they do start singing we’re very well placed to go after them."

"Most of the 11 gibbon species… 9 of them have these duets where the male and female have very distinct songs. The Javan gibbon doesn’t and the Kloss gibbon doesn’t, we’re not entirely sure why, but the rest of them have these very distinct male and female parts and within that the female’s the most distinctive, she has the longest and loudest call, that part of the song is called the “great call”."

Pram: "How many gibbons in this area, Susan?"

SC: "In the grid system, which is 2km2, we have 12 groups, and if we average 4 gibbons per group – that’s 48. It’s not high-density forest, but there are definitely gibbons here and we reckon this is probably the largest population of gibbons in Indonesia at around 30,000 animals, if you include the whole Sebangau, not this particular area."

"We’re looking mainly at the feeding ecology of gibbons, the types of trees that make up the majority of their diet, which part of those trees they’re eating, whether it be the fruit or the seeds or the leaves or flowers, and we’re also collecting samples of the all the food the gibbons eat to do mechanical and nutritional analysis on, to actually work out how much energy they are actually getting from the food. We’re also, because noone has studied the gibbons here before, we’re also doing behavioural study, looking at where they go, what they do, group interactions, interactions between gibbons and orangutans and indeed gibbons and any other animals, to build up a good overall picture of the behaviour of gibbons in this forest."

"As I said before, gibbons here are at quite low density, but there certainly are gibbons here, they’re certainly thriving and they’re definitely reproducing. So, we’re wanting to understand how they’re managing to survive, first of all in a relatively low-productivity peat-swamp forest, and second – a low productivity peat-swamp forest that had been a logging concession for 30 years."

"This here is… we actually did this because orangutans eat the bark of this tree, and what they actually want is this sap and the cambium which is underneath the bark, so they actually get the tree and strip the bark themselves. Because its an orangutan food and that’s part of Mark’s study, which is the comparison to mine between orangutans and gibbons in this forest, we had to get samples of the bark to send off to the lab in Bogor for nutritional analysis. When we’re taking samples from trees and things like this, especially taking bark, we take it from many different trees, there’s no way we could take enough bark from one tree without doing a lot of damage."

"Right, the gibbons are singing so we better go… so now we go and find them!"

See the video above to find out more about our morning in the forest following the gibbons. This blog entry is a precursor to a broadcast project we are developing with Susan and Chanee.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Protecting Indonesia's Forests - EIA

A new film from our friends at the Environmental Investigation Agency

Every year 2.8 million hectares of Indonesia's forests are illegally felled. The vast profits from this trade benefit a small minority of ... all » powerful timber barons with little or no return for local people.

This film shows how civil society groups in Indonesia have joined together to tell their story and press for change in the major market for unsustainable timber - the European Union.