Monday, December 5, 2011

Our showers were cold but the water was clean...

Our next stop was Besitang, we visited Putri Hijau, a small holder palm oil plantation (2000 hectares).  It was a good opportunity to compare with the certified sustainable palm oil plantations we had seen last year.  Their production yield is quite a bit lower than larger plantations, and working conditions were different.  We spoke with a woman who spreads fertilizer and the plantation manager.  They were happy to show us around the plantation, and we saw the workers’ accommodations as well – these were very basic, like most of the homes we saw in other parts of Indonesia.

Adjacent to the small holder is a reforestation site started by OIC (Orangutan Information Centre) two years ago.  Unfortunately due to unclear boundaries, the small holder had encroached on the Gunung Leuser National Forest in 1995.  After this was discovered OIC took on daunting task of removing oil palms and reforesting 200 hectares.  In December 2011 OIC will be removing 4000 additional oil palms to make more room for reforestation.

Next we drove to Medan and met with Musim Mas.  Dr. Gan Lian Tiong, their head of sustainability; they had a presentation prepared to tell us about their operations and sustainability initiatives.  They are very well informed on the issues; Musim Mas was the first Indonesian palm oil company that was certified by RSPO.  By the end of 2012 they plan to have all of their plantations and mills certified by RSPO, and also have methane capture established on all of the mills.

Then we drove to Bukit Lawang, a well-established ecotourism site that we had visited last year.  Our Ecolodge was well adapted for western guests, our showers were cold but the water was clean.  We hiked to a feeding platform in the rainforest and waited a while…we knew there was the possibility we would not see orangutans.  Then one by one three different females and their babies, so a total of six orangutans, came to the site.  Two young females, under four years old, did not come to the platform but chose to stay in the trees and play with each other.  It was so fun to watch them interacting and wrestling – mostly while they hung by their feet. 

We are off on our full day of driving to Ketambe, stay tuned…

Find out more about palm oil and orangutans on our palm oil crisis page and check back soon - we’ll send updates when we can!

1 comment:

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