REACT is committed to increasing public awareness of the issues affecting endangered animals. By investing in education, people of all ages can make informed decisions that benefit the environment at large. REACT is therefore looking to fundraise to make an educational video about orangutans, the rainforest and the issues that are leading to their extinction.
We are looking to make a five minute video for schools, along with a teacher resource pack, and a fundraising pack. The education programme would be launched as a pilot project in around 20 schools in England, especially around the Hertfordshire area where REACT is based, and hopefully expanded out nationwide into the UK the following year. We need to fundraise £10,000 to make this a reality.
One of the most important affecting orangutans is the issue of palm oil. Palm oil comes from the fruit of a certain type of palm tree originally from West Africa. The fruit is crushed to extract a stable type of oil that is used very widely in the food and cosmetics industries. It’s stability comes from the fact that it is full of saturated fats which in turn means that it has a long shelf life. It is used in chocolate bars, ready made meals, cereals, toothpaste and even shampoo. The oil-palm tree is very productive, giving two or three crops a year and this contributes to it being very cheap.
Unfortunately, the expansion of the oil-palm has led to some very big environmental problems in Borneo in recent years, especially in Indonesian Borneo. Huge areas of extremely biodiverse rainforest are cleared to make way for oil-palm plantations. There are many stories that environmentally protected land has been cleared by palm oil companies, or that indigenous lands are destroyed and planted so that more palm oil can be produced. There are also stories of corruption whereby land is cleared of trees but never planted with palm trees. Lastly, peat swamps are cleared for palm oil, which is terrible because so much carbon is trapped in peat and the irony is that these are not even agriculturally suitable for palm trees. All of this has contributed to the rapid deforestation of Bornean lowland rainforests.
REACT is not anti-palm oil, since palm oil is an important crop globally and it can be grown sustainably, but we do believe that people should be aware of the issue and be in a position to make informed consumer choices. We also believe that the palm oil industry can do much to live in harmony with nature, such as respecting environmentally protected areas, not using peat swamps for oil-palm plantations, use of organic fertilisers, the inclusion of wildlife corridors, the use of buffer zones and improvement of crop yield on existing land. We hope that teaching school children about orangutans, the rainforest and the issue of palm oil will help them make sustainable choices in life, as well as promoting sustainable palm oil and the co-existence of a thriving palm oil industry and orangutan populations.