Borneo

On the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo, large areas of tropical rainforest have disappeared. So we are restoring the beautiful forest in Sebangau National Park, along with the Borneo Nature Foundation, park rangers and villagers. In doing so, we are giving the habitat back to the critically endangered orang-utan and many other species of plant and animal.

Status: Current project

Restoring the tropical forest and the habitat of the orangutan on Borneo

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. The area is also a globally significant store of carbon.

In 2015, a large part of Sebangau was destroyed by a forest fire. The peat has also dried out due to illegal logging in the past. The habitat of numerous animals, trees and plants is therefore getting smaller and smaller. Furthermore, there is a danger that huge quantities of carbon will be released into the atmosphere due to the peat drying out.

Fortunately, Sebangau National Park has now gained the status of a protected area. And with your help we can restore the tropical forest!

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Along with the Borneo Nature Foundation, Sebangau National Park rangers and the local population, we are going to plant 100,000 trees. This will restore 250 hectares of Sebangau that was destroyed by fire. Our reforestation project will ensure more habitat for the orang-utan, as well as sequestering carbon and creating jobs for people from the neighbouring villages. Will you help us to plant?

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trees being planted

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tarnished land being restored

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farmers trained

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families helped

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native tree species are planted

Why is it necessary to plant trees on Borneo?

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. And that is important for a better climate and healthier living conditions for people and animals!

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

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.

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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.

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

Unfortunately, the orang-utan’s habitat is getting smaller and smaller. The Bornean orang-utan is therefore classified as ‘critically endangered’ on the Red List compiled by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). That is just one step below the category ‘extinct in the wild’. By planting trees and protecting the forest, we are contributing to the conservation of these special apes and their habitat.

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What are we going to do on Borneo?

We are going to plant 100,000 trees. On the peatland destroyed by forest fires, we will plant a mix of native tree species that occur naturally in the area. Over the coming years, we will expand the planting considerably in order to facilitate good forest recovery.

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Photo: Andrew Walmsley & Borneo Nature Foundation

We will help set up nurseries in the neighbouring villages. Each nursery will be managed by around seven families. The staff will receive training, the right equipment and extra income for their work.

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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.

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

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.

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

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

Where are we going to plant?

In the northern part of Sebangau National Park on Borneo, which has been destroyed by forest fires.

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. The organisation monitors the distribution, population status, behaviour and ecology of the orang-utan and the Bornean white-bearded gibbon. 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.

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