Illegal Palm Oil Plantations Threaten Protected Forests

Sumatran elephants and tigers are rapidly losing one of their last safe havens


Indonesia’s Tesso Nilo National Park is one of the last safe havens for critically endangered Sumatran elephants and Sumatran tigers. With more than 4,000 plant species and many new ones yet to be discovered, this area in the Riau Province boasts the highest lowland forest plant biodiversity known to science.

But despite their rich ecological value, these forest habitats are under threat.

Much of Riau’s forests have been cleared to develop palm oil plantations and meet worldwide demand for pulp and paper have cleared much of Riau’s forests. Analysis by WWF experts found that two of the world’s largest palm oil companies—Asian Agri and Wilmar—purchased palm oil fruit that was illegally grown within the boundaries of the Tesso Nilo Forest Complex, an area that includes Tesso Nilo National Park and surrounding forest concessions where it is illegal to plant palm oil.

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