Almost three decades ago I began my formal training in forestry. I had a burning desire to know how trees and forests grew. I have fed that passion every single day since 1986.
I am awed that for every one metric ton of old growth wood, trees have removed 1.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and concurrently released one metric ton of oxygen. Quite simply: Trees are the most perfect carbon dioxide warehouses to have ever evolved on Earth.
Since February 2013 'The War Against Nature' and in particular the unscrupulous palm oil industry has been on a frenzied and unimaginable destructive rampage throughout the remaining Indonesian rainforests.
The few remaining Asian rhinos, elephants, orangutans, tigers are doomed, but does anyone really feel their pain?
There's less than 400 Sumatran majestic tigers left on the globe and their days are quickly coming to an abrupt end. As every one of my students knows: In nature when you loose your home you die.
In my short lifetime I have seen some awful ancient forest destruction - the most brutal and flagrant examples of 'timber mining' are now taking place on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo at an astounding rate. In fact within Indonesia alone, the prolonged, corrupt looting spree has reached almost 1.4 million acres of killing ancient rainforests annually since 2009.
The Sumatran tiger is a vital marker of health within Indonesian jungles. When the tigers die, the forests die. And without forests the 69 million humans inhabiting Sumatra and Borneo will not survive.
Unregulated palm oil production not only wipes out exquisite rainforests and crucial peatland bogs that are the life-blood for Sumatran tigers, orangutans, rhinos and elephants, it razes Earth's only insurance policy (giant intact rainforests) from absorbing carbon dioxide from human-induced burning of 85 million metric tons daily of fossil fuels, which are irrefutably forcing climate change including creating tinder-dry conditions fueling hellacious fires in Indonesia, Australia and elsewhere around the globe.
Earthlings are knowingly destroying the few remaining masterpieces of nature i.e. Asian tigers, rhinos, elephants, orangutans and others in the name of unsustainable palm oil plantations.
The lowest forms of Earthling's, poachers, are illegally obliterating rainforests in the protected Tesso Nilo National Park to create these loathsome palm oil plantations. And worse, bribery and corruption runs rife amongst Indonesian government officials who regularly turn a blind eye and shirk any responsibility for protecting a national park whilst palm oil operators gleefully clear the forest, grab mature timber and sentence tigers to extinction, quickly.
The Greenpeace report found that "the following corporations including: Colgate Palmolive, Mondelez International (formerly Kraft), Neste Oil, Procter & Gamble, Reckitt Benckiser and others are linked to Wilmar International and its international trade in dirty palm oil."
Wilmar is the world's largest palm oil processor accounting for over one third of global palm oil processing and distribution - a network covering 50 countries worth in excess of $13B, annually. And by the way, the U.S. commodity company Archer Daniels Midland owns 16 percent of the publicly traded shares of Wilmar. According to Greenpeace "Wilmar has entered into a 50-50 joint venture with Kellogg's China, which means Kellogg's is also profiting from the killing of Earth's remaining SE Asian ancient rainforests."
Amidst all this destruction a Dutch-born Earth-Warrior and forest ecologist extraordinaire Dr Willie Smits is a beacon of hope and force to reckon with for his actions to rescue, rehabilitate and release orangutans in Borneo's jungles.
Smits and his fearless students replant the denuded forestlands with a wide array of nitrogen fixing native plants and trees including inoculating the soils with mycorrhizal fungus ensuring that plants and trees quickly and successfully recolonize the cutover lands.
Smits has enlisted the services of school children around the globe in Deforest Action enabling children to monitor the Indonesian jungles with satellites and detect illegal logging - Smits is offering hope and fostering passion in our youth, globally.
Smits is also the star of a brilliant soon-to-be released documentary 'The Rise of the Eco-Warriors.' He takes are group of passionate and adventurous young people into Borneo's jungles for 100 days as they courageously protect orangutans from rapacious palm oil companies.
I give two thumbs up to this splendid well-produced thrilling documentary.
Here's what you can do to make a difference:
Scrutinize all products you purchase: Read their ingredients. Refuse to purchase products with palm oil.
Support Deforest Action.
Support Orangutan Project.
Support The International Elephant Project.
Go and see 'The Rise of the Eco-Warriors.'
If we all act together to say NO to the slaughtering of the remaining SE Asian rainforests our voice will be heard - loud and clear!
Earth Dr Reese Halter is a broadcaster, biologist, educator and co-author of Life, The Wonder of It All.
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