WASHINGTON -- An international ban on
the export of a rare tree species comes into effect today to help
save Indonesia's rapidly disappearing orangutans. The government of
Indonesia banned both the export and domestic trade in ramin
(Gonystylus bancanus) due to continued illegal logging of this rare
and valuable tree species within several of Indonesia's Orangutan
The United States is one of the world's largest importers of
ramin, with over $12.3 million in ramin imported from Indonesia in
2000 and $22 million in total from all countries.
Detailed field investigations by the Environmental Investigation
Agency (EIA) and Telapak Indonesia have documented massive
commercial illegal logging of this species, in the world-renowned
Tanjung Puting National Park, home to one of the largest remaining
populations of the endangered orangutan, Asia's only great ape.
Orangutans are highly dependent upon trees for their food, nests
and for moving through the forest. In Tanjung Puting National Park
in Kalimantan, where about 500 orangutans survive, massive illegal
logging has devastated much of their habitat.
Orangutan numbers in the wild have declined by 50 percent in the
last decade and habitat destruction poses the greatest threat to
their survival. Indonesia is home to 80 percent of the world's
Allan Thornton the President of the Washington, DC based
Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), stated today: "This is a
unique opportunity for America's consumers to help save the
orangutans by refusing to buy ramin products. The ban on ramin from
Indonesia provides American consumers with a real chance to help
save orangutans from death and extinction. Ramin is imported into
the United States and sold as window blinds, picture frames,
moldings and pool cues."
The major markets for ramin are the USA, Europe, Japan and
China. The CITES listing will enable them to seize imports of
Indonesian ramin under their own domestic CITES legislation.