Orangutan now Critically Endangered, More Pressure to Avoid Sarawak Wood Products
The urgency of ending forest degradation and deforestation in Sarawak has been highlighted by the recent addition of the Bornean Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) to the IUCN’s red list as critically endangered. It should also focus the need for Japanese companies to take immediate action to stop importing the timber products which drive the destruction of habitat which is a major cause of the loss of the orangutan.
The category of ‘critically endangered’ is reserved for species which are considered to be facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. It is conservatively estimated that by 2025 the orangutan population will have declined by 86%. Extinction is not far away.
According to the IUCN the main reasons for this serious decline of the species and the upgraded threat level are habitat loss, habitat degradation and illegal hunting. Much of this is a direct result of a forest industry which is left largely unchecked in relation to its environmentally destructive and socially irresponsible behavior. The conditions and details of this have been reported on extensively by many groups and organisations including Markets for Change.  Clearance for establishment of pulp and paper and oil palm plantations is a factor.
Japan, which remains the biggest importer of plywood products from Sarawak has an obligation to the people, forests, and wildlife of Sarawak. Obviously, as the situation of the Bornean orangutan has continued to get worse, the provisions that have been made in Sarawak, and their enforcement, are inadequate.
Japanese companies in all parts of the supply chain should take immediate steps to ensure that timber they are using does not contribute to the illegal logging trade, human rights violations and environmental destruction – including the loss of orangutan habitat. Measures that companies should take include:
• Identifying timber products coming from Sarawak.
• Immediately stop procuring timber products from Sarawak until such products can be independently veri ed as legal, sustainable and free of corruption and human rights violations. There is no likelihood that such standards will be achieved in the short term.
• Conducting robust due diligence analysis on supply chains to ensure that corruption, illegal logging, human rights violations, and environmental degradation are not associated with the timber products they buy, whether from Sarawak or anywhere else, and immediately cease sourcing where this cannot be guaranteed
 see Markets For Change’s report ‘Forest to Floor: How Japan’s Housing Construction is Driving Forest Destruction and the Dispos- session of Indigenous People in Sarawak’ (https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/marketsforchange/pages/60/attachments/origi- nal/1470188478/FORESTS_TO_FLOOR_ENGLISH_WEB.pdf?1470188478) (https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/marketsforchange/ pages/60/attachments/original/1470188489/FORESTS_TO_FLOOR_JAPANESE_WEB.pdf?1470188489 )