8 November 2013
As we head up the broad cocoa-coloured river, massive barges laden with logs cut from the huge plantations of acacia that sprawl across Sumatra's peaty eastern lowlands are tugged in the opposite direction.
Until a few decades ago, and in some places just a few months, this unique place was covered with dense natural rainforests. Now it is fragmented with the last remaining areas under intense pressure from expanding oil palm and rubber plantations, logging, mining and plantings of fast-growing trees to supply paper and pulp mills. On top of all this, there is massive illegal encroachment into the forests by small-scale farmers.
Sumatra's lowland rainforests are among the most biologically diverse on Earth. As they have dwindled in extent, many once widespread animals and plants have become endangered. Sumatran rhinos, tigers and elephants are among them, and so are several primates, including orangutans and gibbons.
Read more from the Guardian here.