Outdoor exhibition shines a light on Sumatra’s beauty and fragility
As of January 2019, The Forest Trust has become Earthworm Foundation.
Some of the world’s leading wildlife photographers have contributed images to Spotlight Sumatra, an exhibition taking place on London’s south bank throughout May. Organised by the Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS) and sponsored by TFT, this free exhibition aims to raise awareness of the threats facing Indonesian wildlife and connects consumers with the global issue of palm oil and how they can make a difference to ensure it is produced responsibly.
The island of Sumatra is the only place in the world where orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinos live together, yet the species face many threats, including poaching, and the expansion of palm oil plantations which lead to habitat loss, animal displacement and death. SOS is working to restore the natural Sumatran landscape by setting up organic tree nurseries and training local communities in rainforest restoration.
Photographers including Daniel Beltra, Paul Hilton, Hanna Adcock and Craig Jones have provided images. TFT has created an illustration of a palm oil supply chain that connects consumers with what is happening on the ground in Sumatra. With more than 80% of world’s palm oil coming from Indonesia and Malaysia, TFT believes that tracing palm oil back its source is the first step on the journey to ensuring palm oil is produced responsibly, to making sure it doesn’t destroy the forest homes of these critically endangered species. Once we know where the oil is coming from, we can work with the growers to help protect remaining forest areas and we can even explore opportunities for restoring forests lost in the past.
TFT founder Scott Poynton is looking forward to the exhibition. “Individuals can make a difference to the survival of Sumatran wildlife. We are all connected to palm oil through our shopping baskets. If a company doesn’t know where the palm oil used as an ingredient in its food and cosmetics comes from we can choose not to buy it. As consumers, we must all ask questions of those companies where we buy our products: “Do you know where the palm oil you use comes from? Has it caused deforestation?”
Scott Poynton continues: “We want companies to take responsibility for the story behind the ingredients they use. Palm oil can be produced without destroying forests. Brands can drive improved practices in Sumatra and elsewhere by asking for palm oil that doesn’t destroy forests. At the moment too many companies do not know where their palm oil comes from. An increasing number of companies are changing this, but we need more to follow – and that’s where questions from everyday people matter most.”