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In Your Hands - Dr Ian Singleton

22 August 2014

One of the world’s leading orang-utan experts and head of the Sumatran Orang-utan Conservation Program has called on Australian food manufacturers to switch to Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO).

 Dr. Ian Singleton says Australia should be taking a lead role by stopping the importation of unsustainable palm oil, which harms wildlife and ecosystems by clearing rainforest.

Dr. Singleton was at Melbourne Zoo this morning as part of a regional speaking tour to raise awareness of the rapidly worsening situation in Indonesia’s Aceh Province, where he is based, and to call on Australian manufacturers to honour their commitment to only use CSPO by 2015.

“Right now in Aceh, we are seeing the start of a major extinction event that will wipe out the Sumatran Elephant, tiger, and rhino, not only the orang-utan,” Dr. Singleton said.

“The livelihoods and wellbeing of thousands of people also rest on the protection of important ecosystems such as Leuser, in Aceh. These internationally protected areas are of great significance to the world’s biodiversity, but they are being levelled to make way for palm oil.”

Last year the Aceh Provincial Government submitted a controversial spatial development plan for Central Government approval that aims to open up protected habitat to commercial interests, including the palm oil and mining sectors.

“If Aceh’s plan is approved by the Central Indonesian Government, its implementation will have devastating environmental and social consequences and make a mockery of Indonesia's claimed commitments to reduce carbon emissions from the forestry sector," Dr. Singleton said.

The Leuser Ecosystem is home to an estimated 85% of the Sumatran Orang-utans still surviving in the wild.

Dr. Singleton has put Australian food manufacturers on notice to deliver on the commitments they have made to source only Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) by 2015.

“Until all Australian food manufacturers who use palm oil have switched to sourcing only CSPO, then they cannot hand on heart say that they are not driving the environmental crisis in Aceh.

‘It’s time for Australian companies to step up and make sure they deliver on their commitments.”

Zoo visitors can find out more about which Australian manufacturers are using palm oil at the Zoopermarket in the Orang-utan Sanctuary, or online.