Palm oil, People, Bears and Banteng!

Dear All A few quick replies before the weekend to comments received during the week.

Firstly, the thorny issue of “sustainable palm oil”. Cathy, at the Foundation office in London writes:

“So far there is no sustainable palm oil from Indonesia or Malaysia. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has said they hope to have some sustainable palm oil on the market at the end of this year. As far as we are aware most products that are "palm oil safe" or "Orangutan Friendly" are products that actively avoid palm oil. For example, the companies Paterson Arran and Little Satsuma, both supporters of the Foundation, avoid or have stopped using palm oil because of its associated problems. They are not products that “contain sustainable palm oil’, rather they are palm-oil free. However, there is palm oil that has been certified organic and is apparently grown in a sustainable way from Columbia.

It is probably worth asking companies, that declare their palm oil is sustainable or "Orangutan Safe", where it is sourced.”

Chris asked about the attitudes of local people. It is a huge question that most conservation organisations must deal with. What is clear, in order to be successful, you have to have the local people on your side. The reality is people will generally be motivated by self-interest. Employment is one way of marrying our and local people’s interests and has the added benefit of, over time, generating a heartfelt commitment to conservation. Many, if not all, of our staff have internalised respect for the forest and being “Orangutan Foundation” is part of their identity.

Mutual attachment

Mutual attachment 2

Mutual attachment!

It also has a trickle-down effect that spreads to their families and outwards to the communities in which they live. It is much harder for someone to take up illegal logging when they know their next-door neighbour will be out patrolling against them. In my blog I have also mentioned our programmes in Lamandau and Belantikan. Here we are actively working alongside local village communities to create and generate alternative and sustainable ways of earning an income from the forests.

You were all way too kind about my sun bear photos. Have you seen on Wildlife Direct there is actually a new blog about sun bears This group is based in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo.

Also in the week there were a few comments about Banteng. One of the little known facts about Banteng is that the largest population anywhere in the world is in Northern Australia, where they were introduced over a hundred and fifty years ago.

Lastly, thank you very much to the person who made an anonymous donation last week – your support of our work is much appreciated.

Have a good weekend.