As the global demand for palm oil has increased, so has the extent of land under oil palm cultivation.
Between 1989 and 2000 the area covered by oil palms in Indonesia more than tripled, and the country now has over 6 million hectares of oil palm plantations.
There are more than 15 million hectares of oil palm plantations worldwide. Much of this expansion has been at the expense of lowland rainforests – some of the most species-rich areas on earth.
Current plans to lift protection from the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra are one of the biggest threats to biodiversity on the planet, threatening the very existence of the critically endangered populations of Sumatran orangutan, rhino, elephant and tiger.
Oil palm plantations can have a major impact on global greenhouse gas emissions, especially when they are established on land converted from peat swamp forests, which release huge amounts of carbon dioxide and methane when they are cleared.
Orangutans are semi-solitary, which is unique among primate species. The scarcity of food means orangutans spend up to 60% of their day foraging (looking for food) and competition for food leads to this solitary life. The largest group being a mother and two offspring. The courtship period lasts between three to ten days; males share no role in the upbringing of their offspring.