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Indonesia's Protected Rainforests Disappearing

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The recent reports from Indonesia are sending a clarion wake-up call around the globe: Rapid illegal rainforest logging is escalating. School children from around the globe are becoming involved to help save endangered animals and their home - the rainforest.

It's heartbreaking that 'The War Against Nature' is destroying over 300 football fields of tropical rainforests every hour. Critically endangered Indonesian tigers, elephants, rhinoceros, yellow-crested cockatoos and orangutans are perilously close to extinction.

Indonesian's rapacious annihilation of its tropical rainforests including draining peatland swamps is being driven by an insatiable demand for palm oil from China, India and elsewhere. Palm oil is the world's most consumed vegetable oil. It's a $40 billion annual industry that's rapidly expanding.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been paid to various provinces throughout Indonesia to set aside and protect vast tracts of rainforest, which contain some of Earth's finest carbon warehouses most worthy of supreme protection. It is infuriating and confounding to watch the Governor of Indonesia's Aceh province in northern Sumatra reduce the protected rainforest area from 68 to 45 percent - enabling the expansion of palm oil plantations. Much of that rainforest logging will now take place on steep slopes, highly vulnerable to landslides during the rainy season (October to April) causing irreparable damage to local communities.

The renown Leuser Ecosystem home to Sumatran tigers, rhinos, elephants and orangutans is not even acknowledged according to the new plan.

The fact that the international community has donated tens of millions of dollars to the Aceh province alone, and now new roads, mines, timber extraction and palm oil plantations are being granted indicates the high level of duplicity and corruption taking place at the expense of local people and Nature.

Elsewhere in central Sumatra in the province of Riau, over the past decade, Tesso Nilo National Park has been reduced from 182,000 acres (2002) by illegal logging to only 81,400 acres, today. Over 100,000 acres of Tesso Nilo National Park were taken, destroyed and converted into palm oil plantations. The wild critters are doomed. Ravenous tigers are killing humans in a last ditch effort to survive.

According to a Riau local "Law enforcement is an important measure to tackle the clearing of forests - especially when it involves perpetrators with big bank accounts."

Illegal rainforest logging is rampant throughout Indonesia. And now concerned school children from around the globe are weighing in and helping to protect Borneo's exquisite rainforests.

Last year a group of Cleveland District State High School students from Queensland, Australia, partook in saving rainforests and orangutans in Indonesia.

A global learning project named DeforestACTION enabled the students to monitor Borneo's rainforest from drones and satellite images helping to protect it from illegal loggers. In addition to hands-on monitoring of Borneo's forests, the Australian students raised over $5,000 for the locals in Borneo.

This hands-on approach of ecology and conservation-in-action empowered the students; they are passionate about saving wild animals and Nature.

Perhaps even more importantly, DeforestACTION shows school children that together they have a potent voice and an active role in protecting the environment and our planet.

Please support the work of Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program, Rain Forest Action Network, DeforestACTION, WWF and Greenpeace.

Interested in knowing more about Borneo's disappearing rainforests? Then consider watching the eco-thriller:'The Burning Season.'

Earth Dr Reese Halter is a broadcaster, biologist and author of The Insatiable Bark Beetle.

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