By Aneira Davies

A FOREST in Indonesia known as the ‘world’s lungs’ is being devastated by the impact of palm oil production

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Palm oil production is destroying this beautiful habitat

The photos, taken by Sutanta Aditya, show the effects of deforestation, forest fires and palm oil production on the Leuser Ecosystem Area, in Gunung Leuser National Park.

Its consequences are also affecting the already critically endangered Sumatran orangutan - meaning the orangutan is in even more danger of becoming extinct.

Desolate: Deforestation has destroyed this once thriving forest

The orangutan is a protected species and currently stuck inside the forest, surrounded by residential communities and plantation. Sutanta explains that there is a loss of around 1000 orangutans a year, in the Leuser Ecosystem.

He said: “According to the IUCN, over the last 75 years the population of Sumatran orangutans has decreased by 80 percent.”

Brighter future: This orphaned baby Sumatran orangutan has been rescued and taken into care

The Leuser Ecosystem Area (KEL) in Gunung Leuser National Park is an area of 2.6 million hectares and The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) classed it as a world heritage tropical rainforest in danger in 2011.

Sutanta said: “It was concluded that the destruction of the forest now makes up an area of 17.726 hectares located in the core area of Gunung Leuser National Park.

The natural homes of these orangutans are being demolished

“The rate of destruction of forests in Indonesia averages 620,000 hectares per year.”

The Orangutan Information Centre rehabilitates these malnourished mammals

The palm oil plantations that operate in the core zone of the national park have resulted in Indonesia producing more greenhouse gasses than the US and China, based on factors such as peatland degradation, forest fires and deforestation.

This baby orangutan is being nursed back to good health, before being released back into the wild

The photographer added: “CO2 emissions even when a forest fire in 2015 totalled 1.700 million tonnes, exceeding the CO2 emissions of the United States.”

The mental and physical effects this industry has had on these orangutans is clearly visible

There are also problems with drought and local farmers hope to continue farming in the area, despite the effects of the palm oil industry.

Forbidden fruit: Palm oil is extracted from the pulpy fruit of the oil palm

Organisations such as the Orangutan Information Centre (OIC) are also hopeful. The OIC helps by rescuing orangutans that have been used in trade and captured from the wild, placing them in quarantine, before reintroducing them into the wild.