Palm oil company caught destroying primary forest in endangered ecosystem

RAN photo deforestation lesuer
Non-profit forest group, Rainforest Action Network took pictures of the forest, which it says was cleared by palm oil company PT Tualang Raya in August 2015 in the Leuser Ecosystem in northern Sumatra. Image: Paul Hilton/ RAN

Activists have documented a palm oil company destroying lowland rainforest in Sumatra’s endangered Leuser Ecosystem.

Last month, Rainforest Action Network (RAN) reported that PT. Tualang Raya was clearing rainforest in Aceh Timur. The group released pictures taken by Paul Hilton as evidence.

RAN’s allegations are supported by independent data from Global Forest Watch, a platform for monitoring changes in forests worldwide.

Global Forest Watch’s data shows a significant amount of activity within Tualang Raya’s concession over the past 18 months, including a number for FORMA alerts which use NASA MODIS satellite data to provide near-real time monitoring of changes in forest cover.

According to Global Forest Watch, Tualang Raya destroyed at least 1,250 hectares of degraded primary forest between 2005 and 2014 in its 5,140-hectare concession, accounting for most of its clearing during that period.

The Indonesian government had zoned the area for agricultural use even though it lies within the Leuser Ecosystem, an area of exceptionally high conservation value due to its resident populations of endangered orangutans, tigers, rhinos, and elephants.

RAN didn’t specify what companies might source from Tualang Raya, but it noted that the three biggest buyers of palm oil from the Leuser Ecosystem region—Musim Mas Group, Wilmar International and Golden Agri-Resources—”have adopted policies that commit to halting forest destruction in their supply chains.”

“We need these buyers to take urgent action to intervene and secure the permanent protection of the priceless Leuser Ecosystem,” the group said.

This story was published with permission from

Like this content? Join our growing community.

Your support helps to strengthen independent journalism, which is critically needed to guide business and policy development for positive impact. Unlock unlimited access to our content and members-only perks.

Most popular

Featured Events

Publish your event
leaf background pattern

Transforming Innovation for Sustainability Join the Ecosystem →