Only certain forest areas recognised as being of high conservation value are protected by the Indonesian government. The rest of the forest can be used legally for industrial purposes. Large parts of the wild rainforest on Borneo have been completely or partially degraded. If the forest has been used for logging and is not completely cleared to benefit oil palm plantations, it may be replanted and restored. Save the Orangutan supports restoration of degraded rainforest. Among other initiatives, we have supported a very concrete ‘best practice’ project in Mawas, where village groups and local communities are responsible for replanting and restoring large peat forest areas.
The peat forest in Mawas
In the 1990s, Indonesia aimed to be self-sufficient in rice to increase profits, and large forest areas were designated for rice cultivation. One of these areas was the Mawas rainforest area, which is approximately twice the size of London. Large parts of Mawas are peat forests characterised by high water levels. The government built hundreds of drainage canals to use the soil for rice cultivation. Unfortunately, the drainage of peat swamps resulted in major changes to the ecosystem, which includes more than 2,500 wild orangutans. The rice project has since been abandoned in Mawas, and since 2003, Save the Orangutan’s local partner BOS Foundation has been responsible for protecting and restoring the wildlife in the area. We support this work both professionally and financially.