June Rubis, our Programmes Manager, has sent an update on our reforestation programme in the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve, Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. The internet connection from Pangkalan Bun, the town where our Indonesian office is based, is very slow and unreliable at the moment, so sending photos is proving a real challenge – all our staff in Indonesia deserve medals for their patience! Just quickly though we'd like to thank those who have recently left comments, especially Linda who mentioned our orangutan adoption programme. If you're interested in supporting our work in this way then please contact our partners, Care for the Wild International - adoptions make a wonderful gift!
Thanks also to Charmaine for giving our Volunteer Programme a plug! We still have places available on Team 1, which runs from the 1st May to 12th June. If you want to visit Borneo, help in a direct and practical way and have an experience of a life time, then please get in touch with us.
Reforestation in the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve –by June Rubis
In 2009, with funding from the European Commission, we have successfully rehabilitated 120.5 hectares (with 34,834 seedlings from indigenous plant species) within the Lamandau River Reserve.
Taking out Seedlings to be planted in the reserve
Carrying seeds to be planted
Planting seeds into polybags
We have also planted 10,516 pinang species (type of palm) as a living reserve border at Sukamara. As well, we have planted 1200 seedlings at the 500 m buffer zone that surrounds the Reserve.
Watering seedlings during the dry season.
Planting seedlings into polybags
Transporting seedlings from Post Perapat.
Our current plans for 2010 include, rehabilitating up to 30 hectares of degraded land at the village forests outside the reserve. These are the same villages that we have been assisting in finding alternative sustainable livelihoods. The tree species chosen for this tree-planting project will be decided upon after discussions with the local communities.
All our thanks,
Recently I accompanied a logistic run to one of our guard posts, Pos Danau Burung (or Bird Lake Guard Post - where the the recent fires were), in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.
Getting supplies to Pos Danau Burung
We also had a surprise for them - lots of cake, from our previous meeting with government officials at nearby town of Sukamara. They were very happy with the impromptu tea!
Post Danau Burung also happens to be one of our plant nurseries for reforestation at the Reserve. Our Reforestation Manager, Pak Isem, recently bought more seedlings from local villagers, totalling to about 20 different indigenous species of plants, including fruiting trees that will eventually help feed the orangutans and other wildlife in Lamandau.
As you can see from the photos, the seedlings are doing very well. Currently, we are waiting for the wet season so we can plant these seedlings.
As well, we do need your support to help run our various programmes in Lamandau. With only US$15, you ensure that our field assistants are well-equipped. A donation of US$30 strengthens morale in our camps, with staff uniforms. Take a look at our donation box, and see what you would like to support! Thank you very much Matthew K, Brigitta S and Tal B for your monthly donations.
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.
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 into peat swamp rehabilitation.
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.
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.
The climb. Not one for the faint-hearted!
Isam -Orangutan Foundation Land Manager at the top of the tower
Orangutan Foundation's Reforestation Team looking a little tense on top of the tower!
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.
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).
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.
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.
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:
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 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 :-)
We are participating in WildlifeDirect's business strategy. Please help us by taking this user survey, thank you.