Ground Breaking Court Decision Makes Palm Oil Company Pay $30 Million and Orangutans Smile

This news is for the orangutans! Recently, a ground-breaking precedent was set in an Indonesian court when a judge fined a palm oil company $30 million for destroying protected peat forest — a place orangutans call home.

In the Meulaboh district court, it was ruled that the palm oil company PT Kallista Alam was guilty of violating environmental law by illegally burning and clearing forest within Tripa peat swamp, a protected forest in northwestern Sumatra. Out of the $30 million that the judge fined Kallista Alam, $9.4 million is for compensation and the other $20.6 million is for the restoration of the damaged areas.

Along with this fine, Indonesia will now fully enforce a nationwide moratorium on new plantations in rain forests and peatlands, which was just extended another two years back in June 2013. The overall goal of the moratorium is to reduce deforestation and also to establish a complete map of the forested areas, which can then be used for future planning.

With both of these fantastic victories, hopefully the forest will begin to recover and become a safe haven for endangered orangutans once again.

And while these two moves won’t solve all the problems associated with the palm oil industry or even save all the orangutans, the Indonesian court still deserves a round of applause for saying no to the industry and finally standing up for the environment. If the orangutans knew what went on in court rooms, I’m sure they would smile at the news!


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Maybe this is a dumb question, but I am going to ask and hope for a real answer.

Why can't we just grow our own palm oil trees here in the us or somewhere in the world so there is no harvesting them in the rainforest?

Hi Kristin.

I live in Indonesia and know first hand how important it is to fight this industry. Rather than growing fields of palm trees in america (or somewhere other than the rainforest), i strongly feel the better way forward is to pressure companies to use an alternative to palm oil.    It is popular mostly because it is cheap and has little legal or economic repercussions to the natives in the developing countries but there certainly are Better and more eco-sustainable solutions out there.


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