Indonesian court gives go-ahead for dam construction in endangered orangutan habitat

Indonesian court gives go-ahead for dam construction in endangered orangutan habitat

Environmentalists have lost a court challenge to a Chinese-backed dam in Indonesia that will rip through the habitat of the most critically endangered orangutan species.

The state administrative court in North Sumatra's capital, Medan, ruled that construction can continue despite critics of the hydro dam providing evidence that its environmental impact assessment was deeply flawed.

Experts say the dam will flood and in other ways alter the habitat of an orangutan species numbering only about 800 primates.

They also said it is likely to make it impossible to take a crucial step towards ensuring the species survives - reconnecting fragmented forests the primates are spread across.

Scientists announced the discovery of a third orangutan species, Pongo tapanuliensis, in November after DNA analysis and a field study revealed unique characteristics.

The population, with frizzier hair and distinctively long calls for the males, was previously believed to be Sumatran orangutans, also critically endangered.

Without special protection, it is in danger of rapid extinction, scientists say.

The species is found only in the Batang Toru forest, where the dam will be built.

Announcing the decision of a three-judge panel, presiding judge Jimmy C Pardede said the witnesses and facts presented by the Indonesian Forum for the Environment, the country's largest environmental group, in its case against the North Sumatra provincial government were irrelevant.

The group, known by its Indonesian acronym Walhi, said it would appeal.

"We will take all available legal channels," said Dana Prima Tarigan, the group's executive director for North Sumatra.

China's state-owned Sinohydro is building the dam, which is reportedly financed by Chinese loans. Critics of the project say it is part of China's "Belt and Road" plans to carpet Asia with Chinese-financed infrastructure and extend its economic and political influence.

More in this Section

Scottish leaders cast votes in UK general electionScottish leaders cast votes in UK general election

Boris Johnson did not vote for himself on polling day in the UKBoris Johnson did not vote for himself on polling day in the UK

Climate activists unfurl huge banner on EU headquarters ahead of summitClimate activists unfurl huge banner on EU headquarters ahead of summit

Harvey Weinstein settlement deal with accusers prompts mixed reactionsHarvey Weinstein settlement deal with accusers prompts mixed reactions


Lifestyle

For wine-lovers, a tour of the Rioja region of northern Spain is like a visit to your very own fairytale — but with added wine, writes Anna O’DonoghueSip sip hooray in the capital of Spanish wine Spain’s wine capital

Sorting out Cork people for agesAsk Audrey: Being nice to poor kids is everything that is wrong about Christmas

Ever wondered if liqueurs or drink-laced Christmas puddings might put you over the drink-driving limit? Pat Fitzpatrick picks up a breathalyser and puts six sweet treats to the testDo these boozy treats put you over the drink-driving limit?

Kya deLongchamps investigates the history behind the mythCan you really be arrested for eating a mince pie on Christmas Day in Britain?

More From The Irish Examiner