Protection of Critical Orangutan Habitat, Borneo

Borneo Nature Foundation (BNF) supports and empowers community led initiatives to protect forest and biodiversity. The Foundation has particular expertise in monitoring the distribution, population status, behaviour and ecology of Borneo’s flagship ape species.
 
Orangutan. Image Bernat Ripoli
Orangutan. Image Bernat Ripoli

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The Project

Sebangau peat swamp forest was granted formal protected-area status in 1998 and is the largest non-fragmented area of lowland rainforest remaining in Borneo,  supporting its largest protected population of Bornean orangutans. Sebangau is therefore considered one of the top priority sites for orangutan conservation and its forest is of major conservation importance for its high biodiversity and as a globally-significant carbon store. Despite protected status, Sebangau is at serious risk; with forest fire identified as the primary threat. Illegal logging has resulted in peatland drainage (canals were dug to extract timber), putting the whole ecosystem at risk from peat degradation and from annual dry season fires, which cause toxic smoke haze and poisoning of fish stocks. In 2015 over 22,000km2 burned, causing premature death of thousands, the resulting carbon emissions exceeding that from fossil fuels in the entire EU. The project will restore the habitat by blocking 14 canals with 300 dams, planting 50,000 seedlings, and dispersing another 100,000, run community education sessions and workshops and provide ongoing support for 3 community patrols and fire-fighting teams.

 
Forest Fire Image Bernat Ripoli
Forest Fire Image Bernat Ripoli
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We are hugely grateful for the support of the European Outdoor Conservation Association, without whose support we could never have realised such an ambitious project.
Hugo Tagholm, Surfers Against Sewage