All deforestation in orangutan habitat must be stopped immediately

Borneo orangutans in decline, official survey shows

Press release - August 22, 2017
Jakarta, 22 August 2017 - Greatly improved official orangutan survey figures released today provide a clearer picture of the plight of the species in Borneo, where the great apes are now thought to number only an estimated 0.13 to 0.47 individuals per square kilometer, down from the 2004 estimated density of around 0.45 to 0.76 per km2.

The new Orangutan Population and Habitat Viability Assessment, which the government says was carried out in much greater detail than ever before and over a larger area, found that of the 52 orangutan meta-populations surviving across Sumatra and Borneo, only around a third (38%) are expected to remain viable over a 100 to 500-year time frame. [1] Habitat destruction and fragmentation is the primary cause of the great ape’s decline. [2]

Last year, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) placed the Borneo Orangutan in the “critically endangered” category following the devastating fires of 2015 which stemmed from forest clearance and peatland drainage carried out by plantation companies. [3] Orangutans are a protected species under Indonesian law.

Greenpeace Forest Campaigner Ratri Kusumohartono said:

“The government is clearly failing to protect Indonesia’s most iconic animal species, as companies continue to develop plantations in forests and peatland that are some of the last homes for orangutans. This report adds to the already compelling evidence that all deforestation in forests mapped as orangutan habitat must stop immediately.

For years, both palm oil and paper pulp industries have built canal networks across Indonesia’s vast peatlands to drain them for plantations. This peatland drainage is considered one of the important factors in Indonesia's 2015 fire crisis. President Joko Widodo stated in late 2015 that his Government would end the issuing of licences on peatland.

However, these measures have not been able to provide sufficient protection to orangutans, as companies continue their expansion in places like Sungai Putri, a 55 thousand hectare peatland forest that is home to between 800 and 1200 orangutans.

Early this year Greenpeace presented evidence that the Sungai Putri orangutan population, thought to be among the largest in Indonesia, is threatened by logging company PT Mohairson Pawan Khatulistiwa (MPK), who opened a new unlawful drainage canal on peatland. Whilst the Government claims to have stopped the development, the drainage canal remains in place and in the last two weeks some activities have restarted in this concession. [4]

“No restoration progress has been made, while fires are already breaking across West Kalimantan. The Government must revoke the license of PT MPK immediately. Protecting this landscape is vital both for preventing the fires of the future and to save Indonesia’s crucial orangutan habitats”

The assessment released today takes into account around 16 million hectares of orangutan habitat across Borneo to calculate an estimated Borneo Orangutan population of 57,000, and improves on what experts say was an underestimate of 55,000 produced in 2004, when a more simplistic survey methodology was used over a smaller area of around 8 million hectares.

Notes to editor:

[1] ‘Kondisi Terkini Populasi dan Habitat Orangutan’ (‘Current Condition of Orangutan Population and Habitat’) -- Media release from Environment and Forestry Ministry, 22 August 2017.

[2] Indonesian Orangutan Conservation and Action Plan 2007-2017.

[3]Bornean orangutan declared ‘critically endangered’ as forests shrink

[4] Concrete action needed to protect critical peat landscape Sungai Putri, West Kalimantan.

Photos and video link:


Ratri Kusumohartono, Forest Campaigner Greenpeace Indonesia, tel: 08118003717, email

Sol Gosetti, Media Coordinator for Greenpeace Indonesia Forest Campaign, tel: 082122723571, email