One Tree at a Time!

Indonesia 2024

We are restoring and protecting Sebangau National Park, home to the largest unbroken tropical rainforest on Borneo, rich in biodiversity including critically endangered orangutans, while preserving its vital peat-swamp forests and carbon storage.

Central Kalimantan, Borneo
Planting Location
Sabangau National Park
Project Description
We use a grassroots approach to tackle the root causes of forest loss and protect our reforested area for the long-term. We are restoring a globally significant peat-swamp forest in Sabangau National Park, one of the largest terrestrial carbon stores in the world which suffered catastrophic burning of 83,000ha in 2015. We support local communities to collect seeds from the forest and grow them in nurseries on their land until they are ready to plant; we provide training, resources and additional income when surviving seedlings are purchased for restoring burnt peatland. We plant these 7 native tree species in Sebangau National Park at a planting density of 400 – 1,000 trees per hectare. We then conduct ongoing monitoring of tree growth and survival, observing an 80% survival rate of our plantings. To protect the trees and further reduce fire risk, we have developed a network of community firefighting teams which conduct forest and fire patrols, using drone technology to quickly identify and extinguish-peat fires. We also work to restore the natural hydrology of the peatland by blocking ex-illegal drainage channels, thus re-wetting the peat and reducing fire risk. To date we have blocked 25 channels and aim to block another 10 within the next 2 years. In this way we tackle both the fires and the causes of fire. Reforestation is a crucial component of this, as burnt peatland is prone to burn again and again, so replanting reduces fire-risk as well as raising water-tables and preventing peat erosion. Our community nurseries are also a base for supporting community development through sustainable livelihoods. This involves providing training and start-up resources for local people to introduce peat-friendly agriculture, permaculture and aquaculture practices that reduce drainage and reduce the use of fire, as we work towards a fire-free future for Central Kalimantan. Through our reforestation project, we aim to plant 1 million trees by 2025 and restore 2,500ha of vital peat forest. We aim to establish 25 community nurseries by 2025, each with a capacity to grow 10,000 seedlings per year; we therefore project to grow a total of 250,000 seedlings per year by 2025.
Ecological Benefits
We are working to restore and protect the Sebangau National Park, an area of huge global importance. Sebangau’s vast peat-swamp forests cover 570,000 ha, the largest unbroken area of tropical rainforest on Borneo and is one of the Earth’s largest terrestrial carbon stores, with over 3Gt of carbon stored in its peat soils which have been accumulating for 20,000 years and reach depths of 15m. Sebangau National Park is also a hotspot for biodiversity, home to 65 mammal, 172 bird, 11 amphibian, 46 reptile, 55 fish, 41 dragonfly/damselfly, 297 spider and 215 tree species. This includes the world’s largest protected population of Critically Endangered Bornean orangutans, the region’s flagship species and the discovery of which led to the creation of the National Park in 2004. We have been studying the behaviour and ecology of orangutans here since 2001, making important discoveries about their social organization, reproductive behaviour and responses to logging disturbance, and these remain the only wild orangutans to have been observed using self-medication – chewing Dracaena leaves into a pulp and applying them to sore joints. As well as orangutans, this forest is important for other primates including the white-bearded gibbon, red leaf monkey, slow loris and pig-tailed macaque. Other threatened species which are abundant in Sebangau include the rhinoceros hornbill, sun-bear, ramin tree and Sunda clouded leopard. Restoring riverine locations is particularly important for species like the proboscis monkey, Storm’s stork and false gharial. The peat-swamp habitat is particularly important for freshwater fish, many of which spawn in small pools inside the seasonally-flooded forest. Our restoration project will therefore protect an array of irreplaceable species and safeguard some of Indonesia's globally important carbon stores in the fight for climate.
Community Benefits
The local communities will benefit in a number of ways. Most important is the reduction of negative impacts from fires and smoke, which damage human health, reduce crop yields and impact fish populations, the major source of protein for rural communities. People here are highly motivated to prevent fires, and we are empowering them to form community fire-fighting patrols and contribute to habitat restoration. We are using a grassroots approach which benefits and empowers local communities. Activities associated with our reforestation, peatland restoration and forest protection will create 500 green jobs for local people. We will establish 25 community nurseries by 2025; we have already established 10 nurseries across 3 villages, supporting 86 local people with income and skill-development. We are supporting 5 community-led firefighting teams comprising 65 local people gaining financial benefit. Local women produce organic, plastic-free polybags from sustainably sourced rattan, which we purchase and use to transport and plant the seedlings; these bags increase planting success and provide women with independent income. In addition, we have supported 1,773 local people from 415 households so far with sustainable livelihood development including permaculture, aquaculture and honey production practices. We put local people at the centre of our project, ensuring they benefit from and take ownership of conservation and sustainable management of their forests.
Tree Species
Shorea balangeran – Balangeran (55.75%) - native, IUCN VU Syzygium sp. 1 – Tampohot (17.25%) - native Syzygium sp. 2 - Jambu jambu (9.08%) - native Dyera lowii – Jelutung (7.7%) > synonym Dyera polyphylla - native, IUCN VU Lophopetalum rigidum – Parupuk (7.45%) - native Calophyllum cf. lanigerum – Mahadingang (1.88%) - native Elaeocarpus acmocarpus – Patanak (0.84%) - native
Project Images
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