September 7, 2018

Order delivered to ensure no extinction of Tapanuli Orangutan

( - As part of its continuous monitoring efforts, the Indonesian Environment and Forestry Ministry has presented time-series based spatial evidence of the ongoing development of the hydroelectric power project underway in a section of the Batang Toru Ecosystem

This spatial evidence, which was presented by the Ministry’s Natural Resources and Ecosystem Conservation Director General Wiratno at the ministry building (Sep 6), was cited as the basis of a ground inspection to be led by him next week (Sep 10).

In his presentation, Wiratno emphasized that Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya had given an order to ensure that the Tapanuli orangutans in the Batang Toru Ecosystem - which are on the IUCN's red list of critically-endangered species - do not go extinct.

“Our minister’s order, which is clear and non-negotiable, states that the Tapanuli orangutans in the Batang Toru Ecosystem must never be allowed to become extinct,” he stressed.

Below is a Google Earth image of the location of the hydroelectric power project in non-state forest areas (delineated in yellow) overlaid with the ongoing development of the power plant site (delineated in white), shown by the director general during the presentation.

He also used the following Planet Explorer images to demonstrate the extent of the construction of the Batang Toru hydroelectric power plant by PT NSHE as of August 2018, which makes up the area delineated in white in the Google Earth image above.

The director general said that during his upcoming ground check, he will be observing the level of impact on the habitat of the Tapanuli orangutans, including their corridors, in relation to the ongoing development of the hydroelectric power project. 

Below are two photos of the Tapanuli orangutans - the rarest and most-newly discovered orangutan species - in the Batang Toru Ecosystem taken by the ministry’s research team.

Wiratno also pointed out that most of the population of the Tapanuli orangutans in the Batang Toru Ecosystem lives in protection and conservation forests, thereby making their extinction very unlikely.

As to the (preservation of the) habitat of the Tapanuli orangutans in non-state forest areas, including the site of the hydroelectric power project, he explained that the continuous monitoring efforts are aimed at addressing this issue.

Furthermore, Director General Wiratno warned that in addition to fulfilling legal compliance, PT NSHE must also be serious in adopting the World Bank IFC performance standards, as promised. 

“This company has to prioritize avoiding and minimizing the ongoing impact of its operations on the Tapanuli orangutans, in line with its public promise to implement the IFC standards,” he cautioned.