Between 65 and 80% of these forests have already been lost to agriculture (mainly oil palm plantations) and logging
. On the flat lowlands of southern Sumatra, for example, the vast stands of ironwood (Eusideroxylon zwageri
), a species of great commercial importance producing an exceptionally durable timber, have been almost entirely destroyed. Sumatra is probably losing its natural vegetation faster than any other part of Indonesia.
A recent WWF report found that clearing of natural forest for plantations still continues here, despite the fact that it is prohibited by law. WWF's Forest Conversion Initiative works to ensure that expansion of palm oil and soy plantations is not a threat to High Conservation Value Forests - forests of outstanding and critical importance due to their high environmental, socio-economic, biodiversity, or landscape values.
WWF is working with producers, investors, and retailers around the world to identify where these forests are located and, together with relevant stakeholders, to develop sustainable forest management and land use plans for where plantation expansion may take place In partnership with WWF, 4 of the biggest banks in the Netherlands - ABN AMRO, Rabobank, Fortis, and ING - have already agreed to stop or substantially restrict financing for palm oil plantations in Indonesia on environmental and social grounds.
The powerful Malaysian Palm Oil Association (MPOA) recently formed a task force to address environmental issues. Working with WWF, the MPOA put forward a proposal for the development of better practices for palm oil both at the landscape and the plantation level. Unilever, a major worldwide consumer as well as a producer of palm oil, is also working with WWF to develop sustainable palm oil production methods