Why Indonesia’s rainforests matter

Indonesia is home to between 10 and 15 percent of all known species of plants, mammals and birds. Orang-utans, elephants, tigers, rhinoceroses, more than 1,500 species of birds and thousands of plant species are all a part of the country’s natural legacy. But many of these unique forest-dwelling animals, including the orang-utan and the Sumatran tiger, are endangered.

It’s not just these wonders of our natural world that are disappearing. The lives of millions of Indonesians who depend on the forests for food, shelter and livelihoods are changing beyond recognition as the forest disappears.

Indonesia’s irreplaceable rainforests and carbon-rich peatlands are now being destroyed to make the disposable consumer products we find in our shops – paper for our glossy magazines, toilet paper and packaging and palm oil for products like toothpaste and chocolate.

The problem with palm oil

Palm oil is a vegetable oil found in more than half of all supermarket products, including chocolate bars, biscuits, soaps and shampoo. The problem often lies with where and how it is grown. To make way for palm oil plantations, huge areas of rainforest are torn down by bulldozers or burned to the ground. When these forests are destroyed, local people lose their homes and amazing species like orangutans and many different species of birds are put in danger. We can change this. Palm oil can be produced without destroying rainforests, and each of these brands has promised to stop buying dirty palm oil by 2020.


Our demand from brands

Alarmingly, brands and traders are not on track to meet their commitments by 2020. They promised to drop palm oil from forest destroyers by 2020 but they’ve made very little progress and won’t meet that deadline. Their failure means products like Kit Kat, Dove, Ritz and Colgate contain dirty palm oil. There are still 500 days to go until 2020, and brands have time to turn it around – that’s where you come in. Customers, like you and me, need to put pressure on these household brands, and let them know that their involvement with dirty palm oil is unacceptable.