LUSH to Buy 2nd Piece of Land to Save Sumatran Rainforests

Permaculture magazine
Tuesday, 3rd April 2018

LUSH cosmetics are set to buy a second 50 hectare plot in Sumatra to prevent the destructive methods of palm oil farming and to create an educational, regenerative permaculture site.

After the success of the first #SOSsumatra campaign in Europe in November 2017, campaigning cosmetics company Lush are teaming up again with conservation charity Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS) to raise enough money to purchase another 50 hectares of land, right next to the new forest restoration site.

The issue with palm oil is the destructive methods used to clear huge swathes of rainforest to then grow monocultures of the cheap and commonly-used oil.

Every penny from Lush’s new limited edition SOS Sumatra shampoo bar (which has already sold out!) – minus the VAT – will go to SOS and their local partners on the ground in Sumatra to purchase this disused oil palm plantation and turn it into a permaculture demonstration site and conservation training hub.

SOS Sumatra shampoo bar has a brand new base, that’s completely palm oil and SLS free - containing extra virgin coconut oil from Nias (an island off of mainland Sumatra), sodium coco-sulfate and water purifying moringa seed powder. Hair will be left soft, moisturised and delicately scented with uplifting patchouli and orange oils.

%23SOSsumatra%202-soap.jpgThe design was inspired by a giant SOS distress call that had been carved into the landscape by artist Ernest Zacharevic as part of Splash and Burn, a campaign drawing attention to Sumatra’s dwindling forests and the demise of iconic species such as the Sumatran orangutan at the hands of the palm oil industry.

The project

Through the two campaign products (Orangutan Soap and SOS Sumatra shampoo bar), Lush have pledged funding to buy a 100 hectare plot of land in Bukit Mas, on the edge of the Leuser Ecosystem. It will be used to set up a forest restoration and permaculture project, with Lush also pledging to buy essential oils produced through this venture for use in their products. The profit from harvest and sales of essential oil crops will go back into conservation projects, creating a sustainable income stream for vital ongoing frontline wildlife and forest protection work.

Half of the land will be restored to forest (50 hectares – purchased with the proceeds of the Orangutan Soap), and the other half (which will be purchased with the proceeds of the SOS shampoo bar) will be a permaculture project and demonstration and training site.

The land will be used to provide training for farming communities on how to grow essential oils and other crops in a non-destructive manner; to provide income opportunities for the local community; to prevent encroachment into the national park and the protected forest, and encourage the restoration of natural habitats for the return of native wildlife.

Helen Buckland, Director of the Sumatran Orangutan Society, said “Although often the cause of deforestation, agriculture can have a role to play in supporting conservation. This phase of the project aims to support the community at Bukit Mas to increase the productivity and profitability of their farmlands, reducing the drive to expand into forests, and providing greater security for orangutans and many other species. These are the people who are most severely affected by the choking haze from forest fires, from flooding and drought when the fragile balance of the ecosystem is destroyed by forest clearance. This project will demonstrate a ‘greenprint’ for breaking the link between development and deforestation.”

Simon Constantine, Head of Ethical Buying at Lush: "We've fought to remove palm oil from our products for over a decade at Lush. Now, with the help of Sumatran Orangutan Society and their partners we are doing the same on the ground in Sumatra. Lush is committed to going beyond sustainability and by returning native habitat to Sumatra we hope this SOS message inspires others to take action. We understand that people still need to live and so it's with pleasure that we will follow up our European campaign by raising funds throughout Asia for a further 50 hectares of adjoining land. This will be dedicated to natural agroforestry, providing income and benefitting nature. We believe this is the future of farming."

#SOSsumatra phase 1

At the end of 2017, Lush partnered with Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS) to support the protection of orangutans and their rainforest home, with the launch of the #SOSsumatra campaign and a limited edition Orangutan Soap across Europe. There are only 14,600 orangutans remaining in the wild in Sumatra. In tribute to them, Lush made 14,600 soaps, which flew off the shelves, selling out in many countries in a matter of days and raising £126,014.

The proceeds enabled the 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. Helen Buckland said “ The Leuser Ecosystem is the only place in the world where orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinos co-exist. 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.”

For more information on the project visit:

Useful links

LUSH: Fighting oil palm destruction

Oiling the palm of an industrial giant in PM91 - access available as part of a subscription

Confessions of a hypocrite: utopia in the age of ecocide

Palm oil for biofuels accelerating climate change?