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Defend forests and the Leuser Ecosystem

Deforestation is a serious global issue. Tropical forests cover roughly seven percent of the Earth’s surface, but harbor close to 50 percent of all species on earth. Boreal forests account for one-third of the world’s forested areas, and after mangroves, are the most carbon-dense forests on earth.

Tropical rainforests are disappearing at an astonishing rate. An estimated 18 million acres of forest, an area one-fifth the size of California, is lost every year due to human activities. 50,000 acres of forests are cleared every day worldwide to grow commodity crops such as palm oil, soy, sugar cane, timber, and cattle.

The conversion of rainforest to pastureland increases risks for zoonotic spillover from wild animals to domesticated animals and humans. Newly cleared areas become pathways for pathogen transmission as farmers and workers come into contact with wild animals.

Rainforest destruction is the fastest growing contributor to climate chaos and loss of biodiversity, threatening all life on Earth. Rainforests protect our atmosphere by storing carbon and releasing oxygen for us to breathe. Covering just 8% of our planet, they also harbor over 50% of the planet’s terrestrial biodiversity, providing a home to critically endangered species.

California Deforestation-Free Procurement Act. As the 5th largest economy in the world, the California state government buys products and goods from all over the world, including those that originate in tropical or boreal forests. What happens in California makes a difference all over the world.

OPS is supporting the California Deforestation-Free Procurement Act, hoping to leverage the purchasing power of California’s state government as a positive force for change in our battle to protect nature’s best defense against climate change—carbon-sequestering forest ecosystems, and the species that live within them. 

The bill enables the California state government to mandate that all state contracts ensure that nothing purchased contributes to deforestation. This means that every contract for products comprised wholly, or in part of, forest-risk commodities must certify that the commodities were not grown, harvested, or produced on land where tropical or boreal deforestation occurred. This includes products like palm oil, soy, beef, leather, lumber, paper, rubber, cocoa, coffee, and wood pulp. 

Other states, like New York, are considering similar legislation. Federally, OPS is supporting a proposed bill to ban U.S. imports of products linked to illegal deforestation and land conversion, and encouraging the current administration to enact policy measures to support the health and well-being of the world’s forests.

The Last Place on Earth. The Last Place on Earth will expose some of darkest forces at work destroying Asia’s last great wilderness, a place considered a miracle of lowland mountain and coastal forests interconnected by life-sustaining peat swamps. Companies that deal in conflict palm oil are tearing the rainforest apart, threatening indigenous communities, and driving wildlife towards extinction.

As Asia’s last great wilderness, the Leuser Ecosystem on the island of Sumatra also serves as the lungs of our planet, storing carbon and releasing life-giving oxygen, and providing critical habitat for endangered Sumatran tigers, rhinos, elephants, and orangutans. This is truly the last place on Earth where these wild creatures roam freely in the wild together. Keeping natural ecosystems intact is the best way to protect human and planetary health.

During the course of our filming, we have partnered with front-line defenders to intervene in the destruction of forests and endangered wildlife.  We were there to help rescue a young orangutan who was being held captive after being abducted from his wilderness home during the seasonal fires that are set to clear land for palm oil plantations. ‘Chocolate’ was nursed back to health and released back into his rainforest home after four years of rehabilitation.

What you can do!

Sign the petition to protect critical rainforests.

Stay tuned for our film, The Last Place on Earth.

Choose deforestation-free commodities, and support our friends at the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) who are working to hold corporations responsible their commitments to source from only sustainable and ethical supply chains for commodities like palm oil.

Take action by calling on companies to stop buying Conflict Palm Oil from mills using illegal palm oil that is connected to the destruction of the Leuser Ecosystem.  

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