Orangutan Friendly Activities and Products
In your daily life there are also plenty of opportunities to help with orangutan conservation. A sensitive and thoughtful approach with your interaction with nature is a big step in the right direction. Adopting a lifestyle which embraces less consumption of goods and services, recycling of waste products, the wise use of water, and the use of public transport, where possible, will not only help our local environment but helps all flora and fauna which includes orangutans.
There are specific things which you can do to help which will directly impact on the future of the orangutans.
Every day it is estimated that some 6000 hectares of virgin tropical forest disappears in Indonesia alone. This is could be home for some 30+ orangutans and millions of other living creatures. Some 70% of all timber exported from Indonesia is illegally logged. Your best option when buying wood-products is to buy our own country’s beautiful woods rather than opt for any of the tropical hardwoods. By doing this you can help us save the forests of Indonesia, and save the last orangutans.
Items to avoid:
Tropical plywood production has swept through Southeast Asia like a 40-year fire since its inception in the Philippines in the 1930s. The Philippines is over 80% deforested, as is Thailand. Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo, the two Malaysian states that promoted logging, are over 50% logged out. And, Indonesia is now the major producer of tropical plywood in the world, with about 90% of the global trade!
The generic term for tropical plywood is Lauan but may also be called meranti. In general, lauan has almost completely replaced domestic hardwood plywood. The woods used in its production include hundreds of species including any Dipterocarps (a family of trees). The large trees are targeted, which are then cored laterally (peeled like a roll of toilet paper) into thin sheets and then laminated (glued) together at 90-degree angles to make the plywood.
The plywood is used for many of things, the biggest use being the facing (skin) of interior (hollow core) doors. You will find it in many home improvement centres and most timberyards. Furniture makers use a lot of lauan for backing of dressers and dresser drawers and the backing of shelf units. It is used frequently in construction for sub-flooring and sub-roofing. It is also used in general construction where small pieces of plywood are required.
There are no sustainable tropical plywood projects. However in Australia, we do have sustainable wood products.
The largest use of ramin is for dowels. Ramin is an endangered species that grows in the peat (swamp) rainforests of Borneo. Loggers are eliminating it from its entire range. Indonesia has become the world’s largest dowel producer.
Dowels are used in numerous ways, but by far the largest use is for tool handles. Rakes, brooms, mops, plungers, brushes and the handles of other tools are often made from ramin dowels.
So where possible buy tools with a plastic handle or metal frame.
Rayon is made from wood pulp — a particular kind called “dissolving pulp” which demands a very clean input stream. Indonesia has now eclipsed Japan and Korea as the largest producer of rayon. The rayon mills are huge consumers of rainforests.
People should avoid rayon if at all possible and consider garments made of cotton, silk or linen.
The expansion of palm oil plantations is the biggest threat to the survival of orangutans (both in Indonesia and Malaysia), as entire forests are being taken down. These large scale palm oil plantations clear land for by cutting the forest then burning the land to clear it for planting – this contributes to widespread, often uncontrollable fires in Indonesia.
Palm oil is found in many products on the supermarket shelves including ice cream, chocolate, margarine, biscuits, chips, soaps, toothpastes, laundry powders and cosmetics. Current standards in Australia and New Zealand allow food manufacturers to label palm oil as “vegetable oil” and thus consumers often unknowingly are contributing to the destruction of the orangutan’s habitat. We think this needs to change and urge you to sign the Palm Oil Action Group’s petition requesting the Government act.
In the meantime, if a product containing vegetable oil also has a level of saturated fat, you can assume that the oil is palm kernel oil, palm oil or coconut oil.
Palm oil in cosmetics is labelled as Elaeis guineensis.
Patchouli is another product to be avoided. The plant this oil is harvested from is also grown on plantations that cause forest fragmentation.
Teak, Ironwood, Ebony, and Sandalwood
Four hardwoods from Indonesia are teak, ironwood, ebony and sandalwood. These are slow-growing trees, so the sustainability of these species depends on their careful and restrained management.
Primates as Pets
Lastly, of course, no primate should ever be kept as a pet including the orangutan. Do not buy ANY primate as a pet, and discourage anyone you know who is thinking of doing so from buying one as a pet.