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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
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
Sumatran elephants travel through restored forest
Sumatran elephants travel through restored forest

The team in Sumatra have just checked the camera traps in the forest restoration site - and discovered a great video of a large wild orangutan sauntering through - you can watch via the link at the bottom of this report.

This was taken within the restored forest, with the orangutan heading towards the primary forest. Although mostly arboreal, orangutans are occasionally seen on the ground - especially big males. 

We can also see that the young forest is being used by a lot of other species, including critically endangered Sumatran elephants, and some curious pig-tailed macaques, as can be seen from the photos!

In the first three months of this year, the restoration teams have nurtured almost 74,000 tree seedlings in the organic tree nurseries, and planted 34,500 - the rest will be planted in the coming weeks, bringing us a big step closer to our goal to plant 2 million trees by the end of the year.

Thank you for supporting this incredible project - with your help, we are regenerating once-barren land, and turning it back into valuable, safe wildlife habitat. Orangutans and the many other species they share the forest with need room to roam, and it's fantastic to see the restoration site becoming part of their habitat once again.

A curious pig-tailed macaque!
A curious pig-tailed macaque!
Thousands of seedlings are nurtured then planted
Thousands of seedlings are nurtured then planted

Links:

Orangutans need safe forests
Orangutans need safe forests

In this report, I could tell you about the 27,500 tree seedlings that have been planted on 25 hectares of degraded land at our newest restoration site in Bukit Mas. This is, undoubtedly, a fantastic achievement, and one that we couldn't have managed without your support. However, I want to look beyond the trees, and share the secret of our success. What makes the restoration projects that we and our partners manage a real win for conservation?

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 reforestation site. We must ensure that those trees, and the untouched primary forest, 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. 

Despite legal protection and international recognition of its values, the Leuser Ecosystem is still sadly subject to high levels of illegal encroachment by surrounding communities, logging and wildlife poaching. 

Our programme addresses this problem head on. We develop bespoke conservation action plans with communities and provide training to enable them to improve their livelihoods through the protection, rather than exploitation, of the rainforest ecosystem. We call this model 'Community Agroforestry, Reforestation and Education (CARE)', and this ‘greenprint’ for conservation is being replicated across northern Sumatra, thanks to your support.

Through successful interventions with farming communities such as training in agroforestry and organic farming techniques, farmers have increased crop yields by 25% and improved their profit, reducing their need to expand farmlands into the forest. Mixed agricultural systems are used to create buffer zones between forested areas and human developments. The diversification of agricultural lands enables them to be maintained alongside natural forests, whilst at the same time benefiting the local community through a more profitable and sustainable land use model. More than 400 farmers have participated in training in ecological agriculture to date.

Through empowering communities, these programmes equip local people with the tools and motivation for species and habitat conservation. Changes in attitude towards the sustainable use of natural resources can have a positive impact on conservation; negative results emerge when local people are excluded from conservation activities.  In our programmes, communities are involved in the entire process, from planning through to implementation, and eventually independent management. 

So, just as we plant and nurture trees, the team in Sumatra are also putting down deep roots in these communities, transforming them into conservation ambassadors, and guardians of the ecosystem. Planting a tree is a symbol of hope, and represents a brighter future for Sumatra's forests, orangutans, and communities.

Deep roots in communities is the key
Deep roots in communities is the key
Fires burn in Tripa (photo by SOCP, taken in 2012)
Fires burn in Tripa (photo by SOCP, taken in 2012)

In a groundbreaking legal win for Sumatra's forests, Indonesia's Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by a palm oil company, PT Kallista Alam, which was found guilty of illegally burning over 1,000 hectares of the Tripa peat swamp forests in Sumatra, part of the Leuser Ecosystem - vital orangutan habitat.

The company has been fined more than USD $25 million, a verdict that many hope will set a precedent for law enforcement against companies involved in environmental destruction. A large proportion of the fine will be used to restore the ecosystem.

The verdict comes as Sumatra and surrounding areas are shrouded in a thick haze, caused by illegal forest fires. The Environment and Forestry Ministry are stepping up legal action against the plantation companies behind the raging fires.

Following this conservation success for the Tripa peat swamp forests, citizens in Sumatra's Aceh province have announced their intention to launch a class action lawsuit against the Government for their failure to ensure the protection of the Leuser Ecosystem - critical orangutan habitat, and the only place on earth where orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinos roam together.

An alliance of concerned citizens will take the Minister of Home Affairs to court over his failure to cancel the disastrous Aceh Spatial Plan and enforce national conservation laws. The plan intends to open up vast areas of the Leuser Ecosystem for roads, mining and plantations, which would pose an extreme threat to biodiversity due to habitat loss and fragmentation, as well as to Aceh's communities, due to increased risk of flooding and landslides

SOS and our supporters around the world have been backing the fight against Aceh Spatial Plan since 2013, and this latest move is a major step forward for the campaign. We will share the latest developments as the case progresses.

Congratulations to all our colleagues in Sumatra who have fought a long battle for Tripa, and thank you to all of our supporters who added their voices to the call for justice and continue to support our programmes and campaigns to protect Sumatra's orangutans and their forests!

Wild orangutan spotted in the restoration site!
Wild orangutan spotted in the restoration site!

As we sit in our office in the UK, we often long to be in the heart of the rainforests of Indonesia. When we receive messages and photos from our colleagues on the ground in Sumatra it is always the highlight of our day, and sharing these with our supporters means that we can instantly brighten your day, too!

The latest photos from the forest restoration site certainly brought a smile to our faces, as the team spotted a wild orangutan, and the camera traps snapped Sumatran elephants too! Both are critically endangered species. The ever-more-frequent sightings of both orangutans and elephants at the site is a great sign that the young forest is already becoming valuable habitat for these and countless other species.

If you have ever daydreamed about exploring the rainforest, consider joining a very special expedition to the Leuser Ecosystem with us - the very forests that your donations are helping to protect and restore.  

Thank you for helping us bring back precious orangutan habitat - this project embodies the phrase 'conservation in action' and it is so wonderful to see the real results that your donations are enabling on the ground.

An elephant passes through the site at night
An elephant passes through the site at night

Links:

 

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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
$93,016 raised of $150,000 goal
 
1,523 donations
$56,984 to go
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