Tree Planting

Improving livelihoods of communities living in and close to orangutan habitat

We are working with villages on the border of the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve (Indonesian Borneo) to improve livelihoods and local forest sustainability. In this area, fire is used to cleared land and to hunt wild pig and deer. Forests have been cleared to mine for minerals or to grow oil palm. We see the damage this does to forests, the vanishing habitat of orangutans and other critically endangered species.

Measuring out and survey of agroforestry demonstration plot (oil-palm plantation in the background).

Measuring out and survey of agroforestry demonstration plot (oil-palm plantation in the background).

As demand for land increases it is imperative to adopt sustainable livelihoods that don’t require forests to be cleared. Agroforestry has been practised traditionally in Indonesia for many centuries and it can improve farmer’s livelihoods and improve land, which is already degraded. It is a farming system that combines planting trees with agricultural crops to increase profits, both economically and environmentally.

Discussions with land owners and Sukamara KPHP about planting sengon plants in community-owned gardens

Discussions with land owners and Sukamara KPHP about planting sengon plants in community-owned gardens

The villages we work with have voluntarily offered one hectare (roughly the size of a football pitch) of their land to be used as a demonstration plot and Orangutan Foundation are assisting with the preparation and planting of seedlings and will help to monitor their progress.

Farmers nurturing sengon seedlings for planting out.

Farmers nurturing sengon seedlings for planting out.

Two of the species being grown are rubber trees (Hevea brasiliensis) used for harvesting latex and sengon or albazia (Falcataria moluccana) which is used for local timber products (firewood, matchsticks, construction materials). They are fast growing species and so can be harvested in a relatively short time and they are adaptable to varying climate conditions.

Transporting compost to plant out seedlings

Transporting compost to plant out seedlings

Planting out of sengon seedlings

Planting out of sengon seedlings

Planting rubber in the demonstraion plot

Planting rubber in the demonstraion plot

An Orangutan Foundation snapshot - 2017

Here is a snapshot of the Orangutan Foundation’s year in the field, thanks to our dedicated Indonesian staff. Most importantly, thank you for your ongoing support. We truly could not do, what we do, without you. January: Miners evicted from the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve and mining equipment confiscated.

February: Attempts to restore sight to blind orangutan Aan sadly fail but her story galvanises support for her cause. We continue to care for Aan to ensure she has the best quality of life possible.

March: Infant orphans, Mona (top) and Nyunyu (below), are rescued and enter our Soft Release Programme, bringing it to 10 young orangutans being cared for.

April: Orangutan Foundation, active on Earth Day, involving young Indonesian’s in cleaning up rubbish in their local environment.

May: Publication of our new photo book promotes the wonders of the orangutan’s world and raises vital funds for forest restoration.

The Orangutan's World - available for purchase

June: A new orangutan birth in Lamandau Wildlife Reserve. Venty shows off her new baby, Volvo.

 

 July: Another birth!  Dedek gives birth to a healthy baby, named Dublin.  Orangutans Jessica and Ketty, are released back to the wild!

 

August: Orangutan Foundation staff help tackle fires and stop them spreading to the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.

September: Orangutan Foundation Patrols in Tanjung Puting National Park remove and destroy illegal fishing traps, which also pose a threat to other wildlife species.

October: Bangkal, an ex-captive rehabilitated orangutan, reminds all who is King of Lamandau!

November: 22,000 tree saplings planted out in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve in 2017

December: A wild female orangutan is rescued from a beach resort and translocated to the safety of the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.

And to finish off our year here's Adib, the latest orphan orangutan to join us in November, making his first climb at Camp JL, in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.

DONATE to support our work

Why Orangutan Foundation needs your support, more than ever.

If you are a member or supporter you will already know that our priority is protecting orangutan habitat. If we keep forests standing we can ensure orangutans stay in the wild (see video below of wild male). In the past few months our committed Indonesian staff, working on the front-line of conservation, have successfully:

  • Detected and prevented illegal activities within two protected areas, home to thousands of Bornean orangutans and many other critically endangered or threatened species.

  • Prevented the spread of fires to the Lamandau Wildllife Reserve, home to an estimated 500 Bornean orangutans.

  • Nurtured tens of thousands of tree saplings and planted in degraded forest areas of Tanjung Puting National Park and the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.

  • Trained our staff and community to prepare for and tackle fires

  • Engaged with the Indonesian government and companies to implement best forest management in unprotected orangutan habitat.

We do all this so that wild orangutans, like the one below, stay wild.

We need your help to continue doing this. If you haven’t already, please consider setting up a regular donation click here to support our vital work. Please also help by sharing this blog post.

Thank you,

From Orangutan Foundation - A future for orangutans, forests and people.

Vote for orangutans

We are delighted that today's blog post is by Julia Cissewski founder of the German charity Orangutans in peril.   Please take a few seconds to vote for Julia and help win €30,000 for orangutans. On 14 July, I visited the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, Central Kalimantan. Our German charity Orang-Utans in Not e.V. (Orangutans in peril, www.orang-utans-in-not.org/en/) has been supporting the Orangutan Foundation's enrichment planting and forest restoration there for several years.

After a week of intermittent rain, we enjoyed a beautiful sunny morning and first travelled by boat from the town of Pangkalan Bun to Camp Rasak in the Reserve.

There we visited the enrichment planting area. I last went there in 2012 and now was delighted to see the progress that has been made. The little fruit trees will later serve to feed orangutans in the area.

Afterwards we went by boat to Camp Gemini to watch the feeding of released orangutans. The weather kept and it got rather hot. We thus were glad to reach the cover of the release site. At the feeding station we observed several females with their babies, a moving experience. The babies were born in the wild and show the success of the release programme.

On our way back to Pangkalan Bun we saw several Proboscis monkeys, watching us rather unimpressed from the trees on the river bank. We arrived in Pangkalan Bun when the sun was setting. It was a wonderful day and we gave our thanks to Pak Ade, the program manager, and the other Orangutan Foundation staff. They are doing such great work in Lamandau and we are very much looking forward to our future cooperation.

I suppose I should mention that I was accompanied by a film crew who were filming for the German magazine "Bild der Frau". This magazine each year awards prizes to five women running German charities. And in 2017 I am one of them. You can help us gain an additional award of 30,000€ (!) for the orangutans. This award is given to the organization that can raise most votes by October 21, 2017. Every vote counts: https://www.orang-utans-in-not.org/en/goldene-bild-der-frau Thank you very much for your support!

Julia

Orangutan Foundation: 2016 in pictures and numbers. A huge thank you for your support.

6,000 wild Bornean orangutans live in the Belantikan region. The largest population outside of a protected area. Orangutan Foundation actively engages key stakeholders to conserve this critical tropical forest ecosystem.
 

The Belantikan Forest.

33 wild orangutans rescued. One particularly poignant rescue was Narti, who was found completely stranded, clinging to the burnt remnants of a tree surrounded by oil palms.

Narti was found completely stranded.

 
36 rescues of other wildlife species. All released into the safety of the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.

A Brahminy Kite rescued by the Foundation.

        

A sunbear pictured shortly after release.

 

A slow loris rescued by Foundation staff.

 

16,000 Ubar tree seedlings nurtured and planted to restore areas of the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve damaged by forest fires in 2015.

A nursery worker tending to seedlings.

 
One new patron. Patrick Aryee and Offspring Films visited our work in Borneo to film for “Monkeys: An Amazing Animal Family”, a three-part series which first aired on Sky 1, on Christmas day. Star of the show, was Okto who was charmed by Patrick’s presenting skills!

Okto, our adoption star!

 

Foundation Director Ashley Leiman with Orangutan Foundation Patron Patrick Aryee.

 
Eight volunteers and one new guard post. In July, the construction of Guard Post 25 began. Now up and running, this guard post is critical for the protection of the new 8,000 hectare extension of the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.

2016 Volunteers.

The newly completed guard post 25.

Our 25th anniversary year saw the opening of Tanjung Harapan’s Information Centre, in Tanjung Tanjung Puting National Park. Renovated by our 2015 volunteers and designed by the Cube in Residence Programme.

Cutting the ribbon to mark the opening of the Information Centre.

 

Orangutan Foundation Director Ashley Leiman with the administrative head of Tanjung Puting National Park.

 

Visitors taking in the exhibits in the Information Centre

104 air rifle pellets were found in lodged in orangutan Aan, 32 of which in her head left her blind, in 2012. In October 2016, ophthalmic surgeon, Claudia Hartley, visited Aan to assess the permanence of her blindness. 
 

Aan, found blinded by air rifle pellets.

What a wonderful start to 2017 to have the chance to restore Aan's sight. Claudia Hartley will be returning the to field with her team and specialist equipment in February to remove a cataract, currently affecting Aan's vision in her one remaining eye.
DONATE NOW to help us to raise £2000 to fund this vital operation to give Aan a second chance in the wild.

The Promise of Nature

Dull and grey, those are the two main words used to describe the cities of the world today. My home is a forest, well it is to me, but to everyone else it’s a colossal, unoxygenated, city of grey. Why they cut down trees I don’t know, probably money. Why is money “so” important to people? I really don’t know? It’s stupid that money is so important to the world, it’s not important, you don’t “need” it to live life happily, all you need is friends and family.

Before they cut it down, the forest was happy and lively. My line of family had lived there for generations and by living off the land they all had happy lives, and I did too until the loggers came…they made me and my friends and family leave the forest and everything I knew and loved.

What happened then I can’t and don’t want to remember, but the one thing that I do remember is that before I left the forest, curse those loggers, I filled a duffle bag full of acorns, just in case.

Turns out I did need them.

When I came back to where I came from, it looked exactly the opposite of how I remember. It was dull and grey, and the only animals were depressed, grey pets, rats and flies, the people were the same as the pets, depressed and grey.

I hated it, the city and the people, but worst of all was the grey. I had to do something then I found it, the duffle bag. Of course, I can plant trees, shrubs and flowers all over the city and maybe, just maybe, all over the world!

I started with my street, planting in every crack in the pavement, in gardens and balconies. Bit by bit, the city began to be more colourful and more importantly, the people were starting to talk and laugh together and be happy. At last my home was happy and lively again. I moved on to another city and did the same and another and another and do on until all the cities of the world were the same as the first one, happy and colourful.

SeedlingsBy Charles Saunders, aged 9

Restoring Orangutan Habitat

We bring you great news from Danau Burung, our guard post in the south-west of the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve!

This area was badly affected by forest fires this summer, intentionally started by local inhabitants.  In this area people started fires in the forest to quickly clear land of trees in order to encourage grass to grow, to attract deer and pigs for hunting.  Fire is also used to clear land for "slash and burn" agriculture, in order to render it useful for farming.  These forest fires caused widespread devastation throughout much of Kalimantan in 2015 following a lengthy dry season, causing them to burn out of control.

Areas nearby to Danau Burung were affected by forest fires. Areas nearby to Danau Burung were affected by forest fires (highlighted in red).

Thanks to two grants, from GRASP (Great Apes Survival Partnership) and Orang-utans in Not e.V (Orangutans in Peril, a German NGO) we were able to invest in a forest restoration project to enrich areas that suffered during the fires in 2015.  Ubar trees (Syzigyum spp.) were chosen primarily to replenish the area.  This is an endemic species to Kalimantan, which grows well in all forest types, and is less susceptible to burning than other species.  The leaves and fruit are also a treat for orangutans!

Okto, one of the orangutans undergoing soft release, enjoying Ubar fruit.

Our partners from BKSDA (Nature Conservation Agency, Indonesia) have provided us with a tree nursery, which our staff are using to plant and grow seeds into seedlings, which are then relocated to areas around Danau Burung.  Our Orangutan Foundation staff have now planted 1,500 seedlings in the area to restore the now barren areas of land.  Our target is to plant 5,000 seedlings in the Danau Burung area, and with this news we can successfully acknowledge that we are a third of the way towards reaching our goal!

BKSDA tree nursery.

Forest restoration is paramount to the long-term survival of orangutans.  If forest habitats are lost, orangutans cannot feed or protect themselves, and populations will perish as a result.

One of the seedlings planted by our Orangutan Foundation staff.

To DONATE towards our forest restoration project, quote "FOREST" with your donation!  All contributions are greatly appreciated!

 

What is Kampung Konservasi and why did we fund them?


Education continues to be highly important to Orangutan Foundation which is why we are exceptionally proud to be supporting an innovative project that appeals to both children and adults on the outskirts of Pangkalan Bun. Here, Yayorin (our long term Indonesian partners) have established their Conservation Village or Kampung Konservasi, a large, dynamic environmental education complex. There is a covered outdoor learning centre (made from coconut trees), alternative agricultural demonstration plots, fish ponds, a nursery, medicinal plant garden, a small children’s camping ground and composting facility.

The fantastic news is that having funded Kampung Konservasi from it's inception in 2006, through to 2012, the project is now sustainable. Funding the Foundation receives can go on to develop Yayorin's work based outside of Kampung Konservasi. This sustainability shows how much the local communities needed and now highly value Yoyorin's resources and outreach.

Yayorin run three integrated programmes based around Kampung Konservasi: Conservation Education, Alternative Agriculture and Sustainable Fish Farming. The Conservation Education Programme incorporates the library, puppet shows, theatre, field trips, school partnerships and extra curricular activities. There have been many visits from local schools where they grasp concepts such as rubbish recycling and they are encouraged to decorate the theatre with “hope leaves” with well wishes to the surrounding environment.

The Alternative Agriculture programme has introduced concepts such as basic agriculture using the demonstration plots reflecting Yayorin’s commitment to finding alternatives to current traditional farming methods which are still essentially based around slash and burn agriculture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small-scale vegetable production (their tomatoes have proved incredibly popular!) and full-scale sustainable agriculture have been developed. There is also an Aquaponic Demonstration Plot introduced following a visit to a Sumatran NGO project. Two fishponds pump nutrient-rich fish water from the fishponds into an organic plant bed where plants/vegetables extract the nutrients from the water. Then the water, cleared from excessive nutrients and freshly oxygenated, drains back into the fishpond. Some claimed fish could not be farmed in acidic peat-swamp water, however, these fish are growing fast. As Kampung Konservasi’s manager, Sally Tirtadihardja, says, “One of our biggest successes has been proving people wrong!”

Funded by various groups, Kampung Konservasi support the implementation of educational activities and facilitate the provision of learning activities and the environment and sustainable agriculture. In the period from January to May 2012, Kampung Konservasi created strategies to optimize the learning environment as an arena so that more people receive the benefits of this project. Relationships with local universities in  Pangkalan Bun, a forum and invite students from schools assisted or not to discuss and address many areas of conservation, to enable more regular classes with a fresh approach to learning methods, as a speaker at one of the agencies local government, as in activities of the cadre West Kotawaringin Environment Body and Adiwiyata School (School-based environment) held West Kotawaringin Environment Body.

We can't wait to hear what Yayorin get up to next at Kampung Konservasi !

 

Yayorin's mobile conservation bus

We recently received a comment from Dwi Triyanto asking about Yayorin's mobile bus. Eddy Santoso, from Yayorin, has sent this short update. You can find out more about Yayorin's inspiring work on their Facebook page.

'Yayorin's Mobile Bus has been busy ferrying various organisations including the Indonesian Forestry Department's fire-fighting agency (Manggala Agni), Agency for Conservation of Natural Resources (BKSDA Kalteng SKW II) and students from the Conservation Club of 3 high schools in Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo.  The groups all assisted with reforestation in Tanjung Keluang Natural Tourism Park, where hawksbill turtles and green turtles lay their eggs.

In April and May of this year the bus transported the public to plant trees as part of Earth Day and also took students from a local school to the forests of Tanjung Puting National Park. Last month, the bus transported 180 student from Pangkalan Bun to Yayorin's Sustainable Integrated Agriculture Learning Centre at the village of Sungai Sintuk for a 3 day field trip. The bus is out and about spreading Yayorin's message 'People need the forests, forests need orangutans'."

If you are interested in sponsoring Yayorin's mobile bus then please contact us for further information or visit their Facebook page.

Thank you for your continued interest and support,

Orangutan Foundation

Orangutan Awareness in Borneo - ‘planting trees for the future’

Togu Simorangkir, director of Yayorin (Yayasan Orangutan Indonesia), our local partners, sent through some photo’s of their Orangutan Awareness Week activities.  Yayorin's theme for Orangutan Awareness Week 2009 is ‘Planting trees for the future’. They are targeting villages surrounding areas of orangutan habitat.

 Yayasan Orangutan Indonesia -school campaign

School Presentation - photo © Yayorin

Their school campaign involves presentations, mobile library, film show, quiz and games.

 Yayasan Orangutan Indonesia - school campaign

 Quiz and games - photo © Yayorin

Yayasan Orangutan Indonesia - Mobile library

Mobile library - photo © Yayorin

At the community level they have organised an exhibition, puppet show and film show. 

 Yayasan Oangutan Indonesia - Village campaign

Film show - photo © Yayorin

 Yayasan Orangutan Indonesia - Puppet show

 Yayasan Orangutan Indonesia - puppet show

Puppet show - photo © Yayorin

On Sunday 15 November, Yayorin we will be planting trees in Tanjung Putri village and in the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve buffer zone. In total about 1500 trees will be planted by students and communities. 

 Yayasan Orangutan Indonesia - tree seedlings

Seedlings to be planted - photo © Yayorin

Yayorin will also be promoting “cheap in your own land” - a campaign to change the slash and burn agriculture method to sustainable permanent agriculture. 

 Yayorin OAW 2009 badge

Yayorin's Orangutan Awareness Week 2009 badge 'planting trees for the future', which they produce and give away for free.

We'll post about what we've been up to in the UK tomorrow, Orange for Orangutan Day - go on, go orange and support our work, it's not too late!

Thanks,

Cathy

Orangutan Foundation - UK office

Who patrols the logging concessions?

A quick answer to Sheryl's question about David Hagan's blog Vounteering in Belantikan - Morning Commute , “Are there police patrolling this logging concession? Is there no plan in place to replant trees to rebuild the forest?”. Logging concessionaires have police on check points on access routes into their concessions, because illegal logging isn't just a problem for the National Parks, it occurs in many forms. The police, however, only monitor local people who try to extract trees – they are on the side of the concessionaire. It is the Forestry Department who monitor the activities of the concessionaires. The operator in Belantikan seems reasonably respectful of the law. In other areas the ‘legal’ loggers are less responsible.

Personally, I think our partners Yayorin (www.yayorin.org), a local Indonesian NGO, deserve big credit for the behaviour of the concessionaire in Belantikan. By simply being there, they are helping to keep everyone on the straight and narrow. As for replanting, there is a reforestation program but one hopes the forest there will recover on its own. The soils are more fertile than those we have in the lowlands and there should still be a crop of regenerating young trees left behind.

Here, there and everywhere!

I hope the orangutans appreciate it! In the past two weeks, I have gone from Pangkalan Bun to Jakarta and back, Sukamara and back, and finally to Sebangau National Park and back; the last journey involving a cramped 10 hour overnight bus ride. In all that time, while I have seen their nests, I did not once lay eyes on a wild orangutan :-( This is an extraordinary amount of travelling, particularly so late in the year which is usually our quiet time. The meetings in Jakarta concerned the potential for protecting forests through the carbon markets, a process know as “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation” or REDD. REDD as a conservation tool is in its infancy though many groups are exploring how it could be applied in Indonesia.

Sukamara Meeting

Multi-stakeholder meeting with communities surrounding the Lamandau Reserve.

We went to Sukamara for a “Multi-stakeholders Meeting” when we bring together representatives from all the communities surrounding the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve as well as the local Government. The two-day meeting was a great success, helping us set our plans and targets for next year. Truly, we are receiving an incredible amount of support from the local Government.

The trip to Sebangau was arguably the most interesting, not least because I had never been there before. Sebangau was only designated a National Park in 2004 and yet is home to arguably the largest population of orangutans in any national park. Estimates consistently show a population of over 6,000 orangutans. Our reforestation team and I travelled there to see the land rehabilitation research being undertaken by the Centre for International Co-operation in Management of Tropical Peatlands (CIMTROP).

Research team

Research into peat swamp rehabilitation.

Cimtrop Camp

CIMTROP's is a pure research project, experimenting with different techniques, habitat types and tree-species to find what works best in degraded swamps. Our work is rather more applied – we want to cover a much larger area than the research project does but there is no sense in reinventing the wheel, or worse, repeating mistakes already made, so it was a valuable visit.

Tower Structure

Interestingly, at the edge of the CIMTROP study area a team of Japanese scientists have erected an environmental monitoring tower which is some 40m high. I have always wanted to have an observation tower in Lamandau. Having climbed to the top you had to conclude the view was great.

Tower Climb

The climb. Not one for the faint-hearted!

View from Tower

The view

Isam at the top of the tower

Isam -Orangutan Foundation Land Manager at the top of the tower

Reforestation Team

Orangutan Foundation's Reforestation Team looking a little tense on top of the tower!

Sunset from Tower

Sunset

Isam, our Land Manager who had never been anywhere near as high in his whole life, was finally persuaded to let go of the hand rail. Once on the ground though he did agree the climb was an adventure worth having.

Thank you Patrik W, Lucia C, Mia B and Wanda H for your recent donations. We really appreciate your support. We are now only $205 short from reaching our $5,000 target – please help us reach this by the end of November.

Thank you,

Stephen

Sustainable Agriculture Can Help Protect Orangutan Habitat.

Other than Kampung Konservasi's simple facilities such as the library, theatre, etc., we also use most of the area as sustainable agriculture demonstration plots. We grow and successfully harvest tomatoes, chilies, cabbages, string beans…all organic! We also keep fish and cows. We believe that if sustainable agriculture is done correctly, it can actually improve the degraded environment, protect native species, as well as eliminating current destructive agricultural practices, such as slash-and-burn. Agricultural Demonstration Plot

Agricultural Demonstration Plot

Sustainable Agriculture Plots at Kampung Konservasi

Natural Fly Trap

Natural Fruit Fly Trap

Almost half of Kampung Konservasi’s ground used to be peat swamp; a few areas of this swamp were even as deep as grown man’s chest. Many local people believed that nothing can be done in peat swamp areas, and we already proved that we can farm fish very successfully there, using very simple materials to make the ponds such as bamboos and sand bags. We also bought a couple of cows because they are the best compost producers, and we can also sell them at the end when they grow bigger.

Below Organic Compost - the secret to our success!

Organic compost

Aquaponic Demonstration Plot

Aquaponic Plots - Fish pond around the island where vegetables are growing.

Kampung Konservasi used to be a barren land it is now a thriving and lush place. We have encouraged the return of insect, bird, reptile and amphibian species. Through our agricultural practices soil and water quality has increased. In addition to growing vegetables we have also planted more than 100 tree species, ranging from fruit trees (mango, durian, rambutan, guava, papaya and pineapple) to Bornean endemic hardwood trees (ulin, gaharu, agates, and rattan, especially the local species). All plants have been labelled with signs showing the local, Indonesian, English and Latin names and information about the importance of the plant or its useful properties.

Nursery

seedlings

Nursery and seedlings

Kampung Konservasi Sign

Kampung Konservasi Entrance Sign

Everything is to demonstrate to the local people and farmers that sustainable agriculture is a very promising income-generating activity for them to do. We are proud to report that individuals and groups have already adopted our agriculture methods in their own gardens and areas.

Terima Kasih,

Sally (Yayorin)

Sowing the seeds…

My every sense says the forests on the northern border of the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve are in trouble. Already split into thin fingers of forest, separated by degraded areas, it seems these forests are retreating not expanding. However, with the support of local communities, we have chosen this area as a reforestation site. A few days ago I went there with Rene Dommain, the visiting German peat researcher, and we stayed at the very northern point of the Reserve, where we have a guard post, Post Prapat (see map).

Map Lamandau

Behind the post is one of the fingers of forest. Here there are tall trees, including those species found in deep forest, but they are only 20 metres away from sand. Clearly this is remnant primary forest and the thinner it gets, the more vulnerable it becomes.

Ariel view

Aerial view of Post Prapat with the remnant forest behind.

Rene helped to explain the process and no surprises here – the villain was fire. Whilst he described it as an “anthropogenic impact”, you and I can hear “man made”. The southern part of Borneo is a relatively “young” landscape. The base material is sand, deposited either from erosion of the high interior mountains or during the periods when the area was an ancestral seabed. Over thousands of years, grasses, shrubs, and then trees gradually covered the sand and forests grew.

Fires have had a major impact on this ecosystem. The first fires burning through the shallow humus layer, killing the trees’ roots. With the trees fallen the next fires to occur were even more destructive with subsequent fires encouraging scrub growth. Ultimately this left an exposed layer of sand with the original nutrient rich humus having been destroyed. Presently, these remaining forests are just waiting for the next dry year, the next fire.

The aim of the reforestation programme is not ambitious – even in our wildest dreams we cannot envisage the day when this will be thick forest. What we are trying to do is broaden the forested fingers, reduce the gaps and push the balance in favour of the trees not the scrub.

It is a tall order to regenerate this area, but you know us, we like a challenge!

We have established a tree nursery at Post Prapat. The people from the surrounding communities have been enthusiastic in finding wildings (seedlings harvested from wild seed-fall) to stock it. We will keep the trees in the nursery until their rooting systems are well established.

Nursery

Nursery

The whole process is hugely resource-intensive and the return may be as little as 50ha (1/2 km2 or 123 acres). But that is hardly the point. The real points are:

  • People learn about how fragile these ecosystems are.
  • We are demonstrating that protecting the existing forest is much more effective than trying to re-grow it
  • By protecting the fragile fringes, you prevent damage spreading to the core

In the case of Lamandau, the forest core is still rich in biodiversity. I led Rene on the 7 km walk southwards from Post Prapat to Camp Rasak. On the way, we saw a few birds and a snake. At Camp Rasak, I was hoping to catch of glimpse of Boni who we are told is seen most days and neither did we see Andi and Sawit, who seem to have gone off together (see post 'More orangutans back in the wild'). However we were fortunate to see Lady Di and her baby.

Lady Di and infant

Lady Di and infant 2

Lady Di and infant 3

Lady Di was released into Lamandau in Febuary 2006 and this is her first baby.

It is hard to believe our reforestation programme site is only 7 km away, but without this added protection, this forest and these orangutans would seem a lot more vulnerable.

- PS, Sheryl, you’ll be pleased to know once the eagle, snake and monkeys were out of the traps, I also set the fish free :-)

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