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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
Restoration site before planting
Restoration site before planting

Update on Cinta Raja restoration site

Fabien Garnier, SOS Conservation Programme Manager, 07/05/2017

The team and I left Medan at 7 am on Tuesday morning. Initially we made good progress, but from Stabat to Cinta Raja, the journey was through oil palm plantations covering thousands of hectares. Our off-road van was essential on these dirty, muddy and chaotic plantation tracks. Around 12pm, we finally reached Cinta Raja restoration site and its cabin, where the 4 restoration field workers have been living since the beginning of the project a month ago. Finally, at the end of the road, the Gunung Leuser National Park!

The team seemed in good health and we could see the restoration buildings taking shape: the 2 storey cabin was strong and would protect the team from bad weather, storms and wild elephants. The field workers had already started to build the nursery, with a capacity of 30,000 seedlings. We had brought mattresses with us, as well as kitchen equipment. The first task was to fix the water pump and tend the area around the cabin. The next step was installing solar panels to provide electricity.

After 5 hours spent in the car, I was happy to climb the nearest hill to look at the new restoration site. There were 75 hectares of what were once illegal oil palms to replace with indigenous rainforest trees. The oil palms, planted 22 years ago, should never have been planted as they are within the confines of the Gunung Leuser National Park. The palm oil trees were chopped down in February this year thanks to an appeal you helped to fund. We also had help from the National Park Authority, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and the police force to secure the area. There were also lengthy discussions with the 18 families who occupied the area.

Now we can begin to restore this area to its former glory. It will not be long before orangutans, sun bears, elephants and many other species live here once more.

Establishing a new restoration site always provokes mixed feelings. The first impression is emptiness and desolation, with the palm trees lying on the ground, slowly decaying and fertilizing the soil. The second is anger at the thought of the forest and biodiversity that has been destroyed, because of lack of law enforcement, corruption and no respect for the environment. But at the same time we are optimistic, knowing that in a few years, thanks to your support and our work, the forest will regrow.

Rio, our forest restoration project manager, knows these feelings very well. He has worked on many restoration sites with us over the last few years. He too shares this feeling of pride: “Look Fabien, this banana tree next to the cabin. An elephant ate it in few minutes, the staff was scared he would attack the cabin, but he went away. That’s why we have to restore this area, so elephants and orangutans don’t come near humans anymore. We have to rebuild their home, the forest.”

I agreed and we had a last look at Cinta Raja before meeting the team to organize the upcoming activities. With one goal in mind: 30,000 trees planted by the end of the year.

Nursery for 30,000 tree seedlings
Nursery for 30,000 tree seedlings
What the site could look like in 5 years
What the site could look like in 5 years' time

Links:

carrying the seedlings to the replanting site
carrying the seedlings to the replanting site

Caught on camera: Wild orangutans in forest restoration site

During January, over 15 hectares of degraded land was planted with at least 1,000 new seedlings. new seedlings. As usual, these were a combination of fast-growing pioneer species and fruiting trees. January was a good month for rain, with the restoration site in Halaban getting close to 140mm. This obviously helps the trees to grow fast, as long as the rain is not so heavy that it damages the new growth.

We have some lovely new footage captured by camera traps in one of the rainforest restoration sites in the Leuser Ecosystem. It shows wild orangutans making great use of the new habitat.

In one clip, a mother orangutan, with her infant clinging to her side, swings on the branch that the camera is attached to. In another, we see an orangutan getting comfortable in his nest for the night:

Please click here to see the videos: https://www.orangutans-sos.org/caught-on-camera/

Planting trees to restore rainforest undoubtedly makes an important contribution to conservation efforts in the Leuser landscape. However, we must also look beyond the trees, and consider what lies behind the success of our approach, and how we can be confident that we are making a long-term difference to the protection of Sumatran orangutans and forests.

When an area of orangutan habitat is destroyed by people or companies who want to use the land to grow crops, it’s not enough to simply plant trees and put up a signboard claiming the land back as a conservation site. We must ensure that those trees, and the untouched primary forest beyond, remain standing, becoming valuable habitat for orangutans and other species.

No matter how many trees we plant, the most essential element of our habitat restoration programme is the true, deep engagement of the communities who live next to the Leuser Ecosystem in becoming protectors of the forest, and defending its borders from future threats.

At Besitang, thanks to a group of local people, who, inspired by this project, have called themselves ‘Protectors of Leuser’, we can be confident that this area of forest will be safe and protected for a long time to come.

Following the success of the project, managed by our partners, the Orangutan Information Centre, we are expanding to reclaim and restore a further 75 hectares of orangutan habitat that was illegally converted into an oil palm plantation. We have raised enough money now to cut down 9,000 oil palms, and restore the land by planting thousands of rainforest tree seedlings. Work on this will start on February 20th

Obviously we can’t post pictures of all of these wonderful animals, but without your help, these animals would not have this new and fast-growing habitat to explore. Thank you so much.

 

Rachel

rachel@orangutans-sos.org

Investigating a tree-mounted camera
Investigating a tree-mounted camera
Snuggling in nest for the night in front of camera
Snuggling in nest for the night in front of camera

Links:

Sumatran Elephants
Sumatran Elephants

Report on replanting Rainforests.

You will be pleased to hear that we have planted 1,566,263 trees in Sumatra in areas where the rainforest had been destroyed. This is ongoing work and our next effort will be to chainsaw 9,000 oil palms which were illegally planted in what was virgin rainforest. We have raised just over US$5,000 of the $15,000 we need, but hope to be able to commence this work in the new year. Obviously after they have been chopped down, we will begin the process of planting thousands of new seedlings to restore the degraded forest.

 

Evidence from Camera Traps

In all of the areas of the Leuser Ecosystem where SOS have replanted rainforest trees, we like to install camera traps to monitor the return of wildlife to the area. Within the areas we have reforested, there has been photographic evidence of the following species:

15 Asian golden cats, 21 Asian palm civets, 18 Banded linsangs, 13 Barking deer, 1 Feral dog, 16 Forest tortoises, 7 Great argus, 10 Green pigeons, 14 Indian muntjac, 2 Jungle fowl, 19 Leopard cats, 20 Long tail macaque, 6 Monitor lizards, 5 Pig tailed macaques, 17 Porcupine, 23 Sambar deer, 12 Small Asian mongooses, 11 Sumatran elephants, 22 Sumatran orangutans, 4 Sun bears, 3 Wild pigs.

Sometimes the actual camera trap photos aren’t of the best quality, so here are some other pictures of some of the species which have been seen in the newly replanted forest.

Obviously we can’t post pictures of all of these wonderful animals, but without your help, these animals would not have this new and fast-growing habitat to explore. Thank you so much.

Hope for the Future

Given that these species are from only 500 hectares of forest, these sightings gives enormous hope for how quickly the rainforest habitat regenerates, and the extent to which that regenerated habitat is then used by all the interdependent species living in the Leuser ecosystem, including Sumatran Orangutans.

For those of you who are not aware November 29th is #GivingTuesday on GlobalGiving. The first US$500,000 of funds donated from midnight on November 28th EST to midnight on November 29th EST will be matched by the Bill & Melinda gates Foundation. If you are able to donate something on that day, we would receive double the amount you give.

Many thanks for keeping up to date with our work.

With best wishes,

Helen 

Long-tailed Macaque
Long-tailed Macaque
Orangutan in new forest
Orangutan in new forest
Oil palm plantation expanding into rainforest
Oil palm plantation expanding into rainforest

When is the sound of chainsaws in a national park a good thing? When they are cutting down oil palms!

For just $1.67, you can cut down an oil palm that was illegally planted in the Gunung Leuser National Park in Sumatra - or why not take a chainsaw to ten for $16.70?

Our target is to cut down 9,000 oil palms, and then 75 hectares of land will be restored by planting thousands of rainforest tree seedlings, reclaiming vital habitat for orangutans and the countless other species that share their forest home.

All donations made to this project between now and the end of October will go towards our 'chainsaws for conservation' fund and we'll share photos and videos of the team in action in the field.

What's more, all donations made today, 21st September are elgibile to be matched by 30% as part of GlobalGiving's Bonus Day - so please help us secure this land for orangutans!

Chainsawing illegal oil palms to reclaim habitat
Chainsawing illegal oil palms to reclaim habitat
Our ultimate aim: wild orangutans in safe forests
Our ultimate aim: wild orangutans in safe forests
Tree nursery and seedling maintenance
Tree nursery and seedling maintenance

The first half of 2016 has been extremely warm in northern Sumatra, with almost no rain at all. Hence in April and May, our field teams mainly focused their efforts on maintenance of the six seedling nurseries and previously-planted trees in the restoration sites, attempting to reduce the effects of the drought. 

Thanks to this daily hard work, our restoration sites present a survival rate of 80%, ensuring the return of a wide range of biodiversity in this secondary forest.

Meanwhile, our teams also worked in close cooperation with the Gunung Leuser National Park authority and a community group responsible for encroaching around 200 hectares of forest inside the National Park. After long negotiations, the community group accepted to restore these 200 hectares with our technical support and under the control of the park authority and rangers. Forest will be back in a few years from now while this group will be provided with alternative livelihoods in order to reconcile nature conservation and human sustainable development.

In June, the rainy season started, a great relief for our nurseries managers who take care of more than 65,000 seedlings! And our teams resumed restoration activities. After preparing the planting sites, they restored 18 hectares with 13,100 saplings.

Beyond planting trees, we recognise that we need to monitor the impacts of ecosystem restoration for biodiversity. That’s why we installed 11 camera traps in and around the restored forests to monitor the species returning to the new forest. We are also engaged in bird monitoring and the first results are encouraging: 28 species have been spotted in a matter of days!

Last but not least, we would like to underline the wonderful work done by Jessie Panazzolo and Todd Iancar who have been carrying out orangutan and elephant surveys for the last 5 months - we can’t wait to see the results of your research!

Thank you for supporting this incredible project - with your help, we are regenerating rainforest habitat. Orangutans and the many other species they share the forest with are free to roam, and it's fantastic to see the restoration site becoming part of their habitat once again.

Manual weeding
Manual weeding
Maintaining humidity around saplings
Maintaining humidity around saplings
Meeting with local encroachers
Meeting with local encroachers
Former encroachers restoring the national park
Former encroachers restoring the national park
Sumatran Elephant in the restoration site
Sumatran Elephant in the restoration site
 

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Organization Information

Sumatran Orangutan Society

Location: Abingdon, Oxon - United Kingdom
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @orangutansSOS
Project Leader:

UK Director
Abingdon, Oxfordshire United Kingdom
$91,851 raised of $150,000 goal
 
1,487 donations
$58,149 to go
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