*SOS Carved Into Indonesian Palm Oil Plantation to Highlight Impact on
People and Wildlife *

A giant SOS carved into an oil palm plantation in Sumatra by Lithuanian
artist Ernest Zacharevic to draw attention to the damage caused by
deforestation to wildlife and indigenous people in Indonesia. (Photo
courtesy of Ernest Zacharevic)

*By : Rina Chandran <>* | on
11:05 AM March 12, 2018
*Category : Business <>, Commodities

*Bangkok. *A Lithuanian artist has carved a giant SOS message into an
Indonesian palm oil plantation to draw attention to the damage done by

Ernest Zacharevic curated the "Save Our Souls" project as part of a
campaign on the impact palm oil plantations have on tribal communities and
endangered species such as the orangutan.

"We, as consumers, are so detached from the source of our commodities that
we are no longer able to see the consequences of our daily choices,"
Zacharevic told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by email.

"I wanted to communicate the magnitude of the problem."

The giant SOS signal, which he completed last month, runs for about half a
kilometer inside a plantation in North Sumatra, and can be seen from the
air. The land will be replanted with native tree species, he said.

Environmentalists say land-clearing for agricultural plantations in
Indonesia, the world's biggest palm oil producer, is responsible for forest
destruction. Forest cover has dropped by nearly a quarter since 1990,
according to World Bank data.

Zacharevic's SOS comes amid growing pressure on corporations to adopt
sustainable practices. PepsiCo and British cosmetics firm Lush have
committed to ending the use of palm oil – which is found in products from
soap to cereal – or ensuring their supply is ethical.

Last month, consumer goods giant Unilever said it had laid bare its palm
oil supply chain to boost transparency.

Indonesia has been a focus of global efforts to rein in greenhouse gas
emissions caused by the deforestation of swampy, carbon-rich peatlands to
make way for plantations for industries such as palm oil, pulp and paper.

These forests are often in remote areas long inhabited by indigenous
peoples, who might not have documents proving ownership or be able to
contest land acquisitions in the resource-rich Southeast Asian nation.

The forests are also home to dwindling wildlife populations. There are only
about 14,600 orangutans remaining in the wild in Sumatra, conservationists

The Splash and Burn campaign – a play on the slash and burn method used to
clear forests for plantations – is supported by the charity, Sumatran
Orangutan Society, and Lush.

"We are all contributing to the destructive effects of unsustainable palm
oil, whether it is by consuming products or supporting policies that affect
the trade," Zacharevic said.

"This project is an effort to appeal to the consciousness of a wider

*Thomson Reuters Foundation, is the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that
covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights,
climate change and resilience*


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