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JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio may be banned from returning to Indonesia over his criticisms that palm oil plantations are destroying the country’s rainforests and endangering wildlife, an immigration official said Saturday.
The Oscar winner made a one-day visit to protected Mount Leuser National Park in northern Sumatra last weekend and uploaded photos to his Instagram account, expressing concerns over species whose habitats are threatened.
“The expansion of palm oil plantations is fragmenting the forest and cutting off key elephant migration corridors,” he posted. “A world-class biodiversity hotspot, but palm oil expansion is destroying this unique place.”
Heru Santoso, spokesman for the Directorate General for Immigration at the Law and Human Rights Ministry, said that DiCaprio used his visit to discredit the palm oil industry and the Indonesian government.
“We support his concern to save the Leuser ecosystem,” said Santoso. “But we can blacklist him from returning to Indonesia at any time if he keeps posting incitement or provocative statements in his social media.”
Slash-and-burn practices destroy huge areas of Indonesian forest every year during the dry season, creating haze that pollutes neighboring countries and causes massive economic losses as well as contributing to Indonesia’s carbon dioxide emissions. The fires are often set to clear land for agriculture, including palm oil plantations.
Santoso said companies and organizations that objected to DiCaprio’s comments have the right to request that immigration authorities bar him from re-entering Indonesia, though none have done so yet.
He said DiCaprio entered and left Indonesia legally with a proper visa and immigration documentation. DiCaprio and his entourage arrived on a private jet at Kualanamu Airport on the island of Sumatra on March 26, took a helicopter to the protected park and left the island a day later.
DiCaprio is not the first Hollywood star to anger Indonesia’s government with criticism of how it treats the environment.
Harrison Ford, known for his starring roles in the Indiana Jones and Star Wars films, has visited several national parks and caused a stir by interviewing activists, businesspeople and government officials.
As the forest of the #Indonesian #LeuserEcosystem continues to be cleared to meet demand for Palm Oil, the critically endangered Sumatran #orangutan is being pushed to the brink of extinction. Here, at the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme’s Orangutan Quarantine Center, rescued orangutans are rehabilitated so they can be released back into the wild. If we don’t stop this rampant destruction, the Leuser Ecosystem and the Sumatran orangutans that call it home could be lost forever. Click the link in the bio to support this important work. #Indonesia
A photo posted by Leonardo DiCaprio (@leonardodicaprio) on
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