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Together with Borneo Nature Foundation, rangers and villagers, we are restoring the peat swamp forest in Borneo's Sebangau National Park. Together, we have already planted 225,000 trees in 2022 and 2023. And another 100,000 will be added in 2024!

Status: Current project

Restoring tropical forest and habitat of the orangutan

In Sebangau National Park in Central Kalimantan, you can find one of the last remaining peat swamp forests on the island of Borneo. This unique area is home to thousands of unusual animals and plants, including the critically endangered orangutan. Moreover, peat swamp forests are important for the climate because they store an incredible amount of CO2.

Parts of the peat swamp forest in Sebangau National Park have been destroyed by forest fires. The peat has also dried out due to illegal logging in the past. So, there is a danger that huge quantities of carbon will be released into the atmosphere. Furthermore, the habitat of numerous animals, trees and plants is getting smaller and smaller. And that is why we are working with Borneo Nature Foundation to conserve and restore this unique peat swamp forest!

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Borneo, Foto: Joan Prahara, BNF and BTNS

Why is it necessary to plant trees on Borneo?

There are several reasons why it is necessary to restore the peat swamp forest in Sebangau National Park:

1. Helping nature recover

In 2015, an enormous forest fire destroyed 18,000 hectares of Sebangau National Park. This area of forest is the equivalent of more than 36,000 football pitches. Where the fire raged, the only thing growing is a layer of ferns and grasses. In order to help nature get going again, we are planting a mix of trees that are native to the area. These trees will provide shade, so that the ferns and grasses will disappear and the forest can recover.

Photo: Borneo Nature Foundation / Balai Taman Nasional Sebangau, Ministry of Environment and Forestry of Indonesia

2. Important place for carbon storage

Sebangau is home to a special peat swamp forest. This type of forest is often submerged under water for long periods, creating a thick layer of peat. Over the centuries, huge amounts of carbon have been stored in the peat. So a peat swamp like this is actually a natural carbon sink.

But the destruction of peat forests releases all this carbon. Instead of being a storage place, the forest is transformed into an emission source. This takes place, for example, through forest fires, through deforestation as a result of timber extraction and through turning forests into agricultural land. By restoring and protecting the forests, we are trying to turn the tide: we are reducing carbon emissions and fighting climate change.

3. Protecting endangered species of animal

Sebangau National Park is also home to many species of tree, plant and animal that are endangered elsewhere. These include proboscis monkeys, Bornean white-bearded gibbons, hornbills and leopards. But the most unusual is the population of Bornean orang-utans that live in the Sebangau forests, totalling around 5,800 animals. As the name suggests, this species is found only on this island and nowhere else in the world.

The red-haired great apes spend most of their life in the trees, travelling great distances in the forest in search of fruit, leaves and bark. During these explorations, orang-utans disperse the seeds of plants, thus contributing to the diversity of Sebangau’s plants and trees.

Photo: Pau Brugues Sintes / Borneo Nature Foundation / Balai Taman Nasional Sebangau, Ministry of Environment and Forestry of Indonesia

What are we going to do on Borneo?

We are going to plant 325,000 trees. The first 225,000 of these have now been planted and another 100,000 trees will be added by 2024! On the peatland destroyed by forest fires, we will plant a mix of 16 native tree species that occur naturally in the area.

In this project, local people play a crucial role. For example, they work in the nurseries, plant the trees and protect the forest. We will help set up nurseries in the neighbouring villages. Each nursery will be managed by around seven families. The staff will receive training and the right equipment. So, this project not only creates more forest, but additional work and income for villagers.

Photo: Yohanes Prahara / Borneo Nature Foundation / Balai Taman Nasional Sebangau, Ministry of Environment and Forestry of Indonesia

We will protect the forest with fire prevention and through patrol teams who collaborate with the villagers and rangers. These teams will be provided with drones, for the quick detection of beginning peat fires. And water points will be installed for extinguishing any fires that do occur.

We will also reduce the risk of forest fires by rewetting the peatland. With the help of the villagers, our partner the Borneo Nature Foundation is building dams to keep the water in the area. This means we can protect the carbon storage points in the peat and the trees, and prevent the peat from drying out further.

Foto: Andrew Walmsley & Borneo Nature Foundation

This project of Trees for All contributes to several Sustainable Development Goals

13. Climate action
14. Life below water
15. Life on land
17. Partnership for the goals
2. Zero hunger
6. Clean water and sanitation
8. Decent work and economic growth

Where are we going to plant?

We plant trees in the northern part of Sebangau National Park on Borneo (Central Kalimantan). The National Park has protected area status.

Our partners

Our project partner is the Borneo Nature Foundation (BNF). This non-profit organisation has already been working for over 20 years on nature conservation and scientific research in the rainforests of Borneo. BNF laid the foundations for Sebangau gaining its National Park status in 2004. It is BNF’s mission to protect and preserve the nature, environment and native culture on Borneo.

We are also working with the National Park Authority (which manages the protected area for the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry) and with the inhabitants of around 25 villages in the vicinity, so that they are involved in all the stages of the project.


News about this project

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