Replanting Rainforest in Sumatra, Indonesia

by Sumatran Orangutan Society
Replanting Rainforest in Sumatra, Indonesia
Replanting Rainforest in Sumatra, Indonesia
Replanting Rainforest in Sumatra, Indonesia
Replanting Rainforest in Sumatra, Indonesia
Replanting Rainforest in Sumatra, Indonesia
Replanting Rainforest in Sumatra, Indonesia
Replanting Rainforest in Sumatra, Indonesia
Replanting Rainforest in Sumatra, Indonesia
Replanting Rainforest in Sumatra, Indonesia
Replanting Rainforest in Sumatra, Indonesia
Replanting Rainforest in Sumatra, Indonesia
Replanting Rainforest in Sumatra, Indonesia
Replanting Rainforest in Sumatra, Indonesia
Replanting Rainforest in Sumatra, Indonesia
Replanting Rainforest in Sumatra, Indonesia
Replanting Rainforest in Sumatra, Indonesia
Replanting Rainforest in Sumatra, Indonesia
Replanting Rainforest in Sumatra, Indonesia
Replanting Rainforest in Sumatra, Indonesia
Replanting Rainforest in Sumatra, Indonesia
Replanting Rainforest in Sumatra, Indonesia
Replanting Rainforest in Sumatra, Indonesia
Replanting Rainforest in Sumatra, Indonesia
Replanting Rainforest in Sumatra, Indonesia
Beautiful forest in Sumatra
Beautiful forest in Sumatra

The reforestation projects SOS supports in Sumatra all use assisted natural regeneration to restore areas of land that have been degraded. But how does this look in practice, and what are the benefits?

Fully natural regeneration is often suggested as an alternative to more labour-intensive restoration methods. For example, if we decided to use this method, after buying any piece of land we would simply fund some fences or patrols to protect it but otherwise leave it alone to recover over time. While this would undoubtedly cost less money than assisted natural regeneration, the reality is that nature cannot be separated from people, and so involvement of and benefit to local communities is vital in ensuring that a restored forest remains protected long-term. Additionally, a lot of seed dispersal relies on animals and birds which may have long ago disappeared from a degraded area, so natural regeneration doesn’t always happen as quickly as it would if these species were present.

The aim of restoring forest is to restore a complex ecosystem with diverse plants and animals and natural ecological processes. Simply planting a large number of fast-growing trees to quickly turn an area green does not achieve this aim, and there have been cases where tree-planting is used as a ‘quick fix’ for carbon-offsetting without consideration of long-term sustainability or even the effectiveness of this method of carbon-offsetting.

recent study by Philipson et al looked at carbon storage over a twenty year period – in areas where tropical forest in Malaysia was left to regenerate naturally, and in adjacent areas that had been restored with assisted natural regeneration. The results for carbon storage were stark – the forest restored with assisted natural regeneration was storing carbon 50% faster than the forest left to regenerate naturally.

Additionally, as mentioned above, leaving land to regenerate naturally can have negative social consequences. For example, if land that was previously used for agriculture is simply protected with fences and left to regenerate naturally, there is likely to be a loss of employment opportunities and income for people who previously made a living from agriculture. This would be an unacceptable cost:benefit ratio, while assisted natural regeneration creates jobs and involves people, rather than alienating them.

Thank you for continuing to donate and allowing this vital work to continue.

Restoration Manager Rio working with local people
Restoration Manager Rio working with local people
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Cinta Raja III is one of the restoration sites we support in Sumatra's Leuser Ecosystem. It has been under the care of the restoration team since 2018 and is flourishing. Just a few years ago, Cinta Raja was bare and quiet, with a few stumps of oil palm trees and some tough grasses pushing through the depleted soil, but recently, Restoration Manager Rio Ardi spotted a female orangutan and her baby at the site, enjoying some fruit in one of the trees above him as he walked through one of the replanted areas.

The arrival of these orangutans is testament to the amazing work the restoration team does to restore orangutan habitat. It is also testament to the incredible support we get from donors like you, without whom we couldn’t keep these projects running.

I hope the video at the link below makes you as happy as it made us!

Thank you for your continued support.

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Singkil Swamp Wildlife Reserve is a vitally important habitat for orangutans and many other threatened species. Being a peat swamp forest, it also provides critical ecosystem services such as carbon storage and flood prevention. 

The restoration team is working hard to restore 500 hectares of the reserve. This process is slightly different to the restoration method at other sites - because it's a peat swamp forest, the team must measure water levels before embarking on tree-planting to ensure the swamp is not at risk of drying out.

The photo above shows six months of progress at the reserve - isn't it amazing?

Thank you so much for your support - we couldn't do this without you.

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Photo by Andrew Walmsley.
Photo by Andrew Walmsley.

One of the seven rainforest restoration sites your donations support is called Cinta Raja III. It has been three years since the restoration experts started clearing the oil palms from this site and preparing it for its return to thriving forest, and they recently carried out a tree evaluation to find out how well their methods are working.

Using a systematic sampling method, the team found out that the tree survival rate at Cinta Raja III is 91.95% - an excellent result for a site where wild boars, fluctuating rainfall and fluctuating temperatures threaten trees at all stages of growth. This is an example of the value of having teams monitoring restoration sites around the clock to assist the regeneration process by removing diseased seedlings, providing water when rainfall is low and planting wildlife-friendly barriers like lemongrass to protect seedlings from wild boars and monkeys.

Your support makes this work possible. Thank you for contributing to the future of Sumatra's rainforests.

Carrying out the evaluation.
Carrying out the evaluation.
Tree maintenance at Cinta Raja III.
Tree maintenance at Cinta Raja III.

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Photo credit Suzi Eszterhas
Photo credit Suzi Eszterhas

If you've chosen to give a donation to support our work, we know that you already believe in the importance of restoring forests to ensure a future for Sumatran orangutans in the wild. However, we also know that our values as a non-profit matter to our supporters, so we want to tell you a bit more about what they are and how they influence our Replanting Rainforest project.

  • Optimism

The threats facing orangutans and their habitat are real, but we know there is hope. We are optimistic about the future for orangutans and their forests because we have seen what can be achieved through dedicated conservation efforts. This means that we see every tree planted at our restoration sites as a step forward and a sign of hope. We are so proud that our project teams have now planted almost 2 million trees in Sumatra, but that doesn't mean tree number 2,000,001 won't also make us really happy and hopeful. 

  • Determination

Conservation is complicated and there are many obstacles to overcome in planning and implementing projects that really work. When an obstacle arises, we find a way around it, calling on our skills and contacts to help us find a way to achieve our goals. That's why our funding goes to experts in rainforest restoration, who use science-backed methods to achieve amazing results. We also support them when they want to spend time researching new methods - we want to be sure that we are always addressing conservation issues in the most effective way.

  • Respect

Everything we do is done with respect for orangutans, their habitat and the people living near it. We do not harm them with the projects we support or with our communications about our projects. We also have the utmost respect for YOU, our donors and supporters, and we hope that always comes across in the emails we write to you.

  • Love

Orangutans are unique, precious and irreplaceable. We feel they are something to be cherished, and our work – protecting their rainforest homes and helping them to thrive – reflects that. We know that you feel the same, and we are incredibly grateful to have you on our team.

Photo credit Andrew Walmsley
Photo credit Andrew Walmsley
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Organization Information

Sumatran Orangutan Society

Location: Abingdon, Oxon - United Kingdom
Website:
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Twitter: @orangutansSOS
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UK Director
Abingdon, Oxfordshire United Kingdom
$127,372 raised of $150,000 goal
 
2,072 donations
$22,628 to go
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