COP15 Urged to Protect the Diminishing Tapanuli Orangutan

5 December 2022 13:10 WIB

TEMPO.CO, JakartaEnvironmental watchdog Satya Bumi has highlighted the existential threat faced by the ecosystem in Batang Toru, North Sumatra, ahead of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15). The organization has advocated this due to the forest’s nature as the last surviving habitat of Tapanuli orangutans

Satya Bumi Executive Director Annisa Rahmawati assesses that all parties are responsible for the Tapanuli Forest's survival which is important for the lives of local, national, and global communities. She argues that there are currently a myriad of large-scale infrastructure developments and a number of other concessions that do not pay attention to the natural balance in this specific location.

"COP15 is held every 10 years, so if the Tapanuli orangutan is forecasted to become extinct in 2030. If we don't really look for a solution then at the next COP they won't be any more orangutans there," she said in Jakarta, Monday, December 5.

Satya Bumi has taken the stance of urging China – which will act as the host for the COP15 and co-hosted in Montreal – to use its influence to help protect and preserve Tapanuli forests and the wildlife that depends on this ecosystem, especially in its global investments, which includes Indonesia, which is one of the largest forest countries with an abundance of biodiversity. 

Annisa emphasized that the global community must invest more and increase the scale and speed of protecting nature and preventing more species from facing extinction. 

"Don't let time be wasted protecting habitats and slowing the rate of extinction," she said.

The threat of biodiversity extinction is one of the major crises the world is facing today, along with climate change and pollution. Annisa hopes that the UN will raise the issue of biodiversity seriously at the COP15 conference in December.

On another note, the director of Green Justice Indonesia Dana Tarigan was surprised by the granting of a massive-scale concession in Batang Toru. "We are also bewildered as to why these concessions received permits, even though they have a negative impact on biodiversity," said Dana.

Only 800 Tapanuli Orangutans Left 

To save the forest and biodiversity, Dana assesses that there needs to be full legal protection to strengthen the legal position of protecting the Batang Toru Ecosystem in Tapanuli, North Sumatra. Dana strongly urged a deep review of various concession permits in this landscape.

Moreover, Batang Toru is one of the ecosystems in Indonesia that remains to be untouched and rich in biodiversity, including as the last habitat for the Tapanuli orangutan. The Ex-Situ Conservation Foundation (YEL) SOCP Research and Development Coordinator, Sheila Silitonga said there are only around 800 Tapanuli orangutans left.

Tapanuli orangutan was identified as a separate species from its close relatives in Kalimantan in 2017 and has been categorized as an endangered species in the world. The wildlife is also on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list.

With their increasingly narrowing habitat due to fragmentation caused by infrastructure development and other concessions in recent years, Sheila assesses that the survival of the Tapanuli orangutan is now increasingly threatened.

RIANI SANUSI PUTRI

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