The restoration teams in Sumatra always prepare a contingency of extra seedlings when stocking the tree nurseries, and the photo above shows one of the reasons for doing this. The seedlings in the foreground are all squashed because an elephant stood on them, so are now unlikely to survive if planted out in the site. On the plus side, it's always good to know there are amazing mammals like that so nearby and that they will benefit from the restoration process!
Thank you for continuing to support this work. Your donations ensure the team have all the tools and time they need to keep seedlings growing healthy and strong to create new rainforest.
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.
A 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.
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!
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.
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.
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