Orangutans are a protected species, under both Indonesian and international law, but their precious forest homes are often not. Habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation are the leading causes for the decline in orangutan population. BOS Foundation strives to protect Indonesia’s unique jungle ecosystems and restore those which have already been exploited so that orangutans and all Indonesian wildlife have homes for countless generations to come.
Our reforestation work started when we opened our orangutan rehabilitation centre at Samboja Lestari, East Kalimantan on a 1,853 ha plot of land that was nothing more than grasses and weeds. That is when we planted our first tree. Today we have a thriving secondary forest but our work there is far from complete. BOS Foundation continues to restore the forest through continued reforestation, maintenance of newly rehabilitated land, and fire management.
In 2009, we took our forest protection efforts to new heights when we founded RHOI, or Restorasi Habitat Orangutan Indonesia. The sole purpose of this company was to provide safe forest for wild and rehabilitant orangutans; in 2010, this vision was realised with the procurement of an Ecosystem Restoration Concession (ERC), a business license issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, which gives the receiving company the rights to use and manage the land for 60 years. We have obtained the rights to 86,593.65 ha of rainforest in East Kalimantan, the Kehje Sewen Forest, which translates to ‘home to orangutan’ in the local Wehea Dayak language. Today we continue to release orangutans and protect this ecosystem through sustainable forest management practices.
In Central Kalimantan, BOS Foundation protects 309,000 ha of natural wild orangutan habitat in the Mawas Conservation Area. This vast expanse of land was once the location of a failed, large-scale rice cultivation project, but the remaining peat swamp forest is home to one of the largest Bornean orangutan populations in the world, comprised of approximately 2,550 wild orangutans.
Through multi-stakeholder collaborations within Mawas, we continue to protect the remaining natural ecosystems and orangutans through active management, patrolling for illegal and environmentally damaging activities, and mitigation of human-orangutan conflict and forest fires. In the previously degraded areas, we work to rehabilitate the forest by engaging with the local communities to block canals and implement large scale replanting projects. Also, in collaboration with Universitas National Indonesia and Rutgers University, the Tuanan Research Station carries out ground-breaking research in the fields of wild orangutan behaviour and peatland ecology.
But all this work is still not enough. An estimated 70% of all wild orangutans in Borneo live outside of protected areas. To ensure a future for them as well, we are playing an active role in the Indonesian government’s National Orangutan Action Plan. We are also working with the corporate sector, offering our support to companies in the areas of oil palm, timber, and other industries, in the form of Best Management Practices (BMP) for Orangutan Conservation. This program enables us to work with companies throughout the development and implementation of procedures and processes relating to sustainable land management, in ways that protect biodiversity and mitigate conflict with orangutans. Together, these partnerships have proven fruitful for humans and orangutans alike.
With the population of orangutans dwindling every single day, we cannot hesitate to act. There is no single solution for a problem as complex as impending extinction, so together we must take a stand to protect each and every orangutan and their habitat.