Medan, Indonesia: Actor and activist Leonardo Dicaprio recently made a two day trip to the Leuser Ecosystem in Indonesia, where he met with and gave his support to local groups working to save this critical landscape from destruction by palm oil plantations, mining, logging, new roads and other development threats.
Dicaprio posted this on his personal Instagram: “The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation is supporting local partners to establish a mega-fauna sanctuary in the Leuser Ecosystem, the last place on Earth where Sumatran orangutans, tigers, rhinos and elephants coexist in the wild.”
During a speech in January at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Dicaprio announced his foundation’s support to organizations working to protect the Leuser Ecosystem, including San Francisco based Rainforest Action Network (RAN).
“We are in a race against time to stop the extinction of the Sumatran orangutan, tiger, rhino and elephant,” said Ginger Cassady, Forest Program Director at Rainforest Action Network. “Companies like PepsiCo that profit from conflict palm oil connected to the destruction of the Leuser Ecosystem must act immediately to break the link between the products they sell and rainforest destruction, labor abuses and climate pollution.”
The 6.5 million acre Leuser Ecosystem, located on the island of Sumatra, is a global biodiversity hotspot and a high priority landscape for conservation. Scientists warn that the iconic wildlife species that call it home are likely to be pushed to extinction forever if this last habitat stronghold is lost.
The Leuser Ecosystem plays a critical role in helping regulate the Earth’s climate by absorbing carbon pollution and storing massive amounts of carbon in its lowland rainforests and peatlands. Millions of local people depend directly on the Leuser Ecosystem for their livelihoods and as the central source of their clean water supply. Its forested watersheds also minimise the number and severity of environmental disasters in the region, which already kill many and cost millions of dollars each year.
PepsiCo is the largest globally distributed snack food company in the world and is falling behind its peers in taking meaningful action to reform its palm oil supply chain. PepsiCo consumes over 427,500 tonnes of palm oil per year and its consumption of this controversial commodity is on the rise.
For more information on the Leuser Ecosystem and the threats it faces, see RAN’s report The Last Place on Earth, Tracking Progress and New Opportunities to Protect the Leuser Ecosystem. For more on the status of the campaign to protect the region from palm oil plantation expansion and which companies are leaders vs laggards, see RAN’s Snack Food 20 Scorecard.