'SAVE OUR SOULS'
In January 2018 Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic worked with Orangutan Information Centre and Sumatran Orangutan Society to carve a giant SOS distress call into the landscape of an oil palm plantation in Sumatra, calling attention to the ongoing destruction of Indonesia’s forests and the demise of endangered species.
“From the ground, you would not suspect anything more than just another palm oil plantation, the aerial view however reveals an SOS distress signal. ‘Save Our Souls’ is a message communicated to those at a distance, a reminder of the connection we share with nature. As more of the forests are lost, we lose a little bit of ourselves in the process.
— Ernest Zacharevic, Artist
The canvas for this intervention was an oil palm plantation, land almost totally devoid of wildlife, directly next to the Leuser Ecosystem - the only place in the world where orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinos coexist. In order to restore the land for wildlife, the palm plantation had to be removed which created an opportunity for this creative colaboration.
The land was acquired by fresh and handmade cosmetics company LUSH who partnered with the SOS for their #sossumatra campaign. Reflecting the 14,600 orangutang left in the wild Lush made 14,600 soaps, the proceeds enabled the UK charity’s Indonesian partners, the Orangutan Information Centre, to buy 50 hectares of oil palm plantation land, to reclaim and restore native forest to an area on the edge of the Leuser Ecosystem in Bukit Mas, Sumatra.
“This part of the forest was under attack, with more and more orangutan habitat being lost every week as illegal agriculture encroached into the protected area. By supporting us to buy this land on the buffer zone of the national park, Lush and their customers are enabling us to hold back, and reverse, the tide of forest loss
— Helen Buckland, Director of the Sumatran Orangutan Society
FUTURE PLANS FOR THE LAND
- Clear total of 100 hectares of plantation.
- Plant trees native to the local forest.
- Study and protect animals returning to the land.
- Build permaculture farm and public school to employ and educate local communities.