Success for the protection of orangutans: Rainforest area secured

The Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry gives the go-ahead for a Conservation Concession for the protection of the critically endangered Sumatran orangutans. The concession will provide 39,000 hectares of tropical rainforest in Bukit Tigapuluh in central Sumatra for the reintroduction of orangutans into their natural habitat.

Bukit Tigapuluh National Park Map (Graphic: himmelbraun.de)
Map of new concession areas.

Bukit Tigapuluh, Indonesia (12 August): For more than five years the Frankfurt Zoological Society, The Orangutan Project and the WWF have been campaigning to obtain the management rights for two forestry concession blocks adjacent to the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park (Sumatra, Indonesia). Finally, on the 24th of July, the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry granted the licence for an Ecosystem Restoration Concession, an innovative way to preserve native forest areas from logging.

 

With this new conservation concession 39,000 hectares have been made available to orangutans for at least 60 years. The area (roughly one and a half times the size of the Bavarian Forest National Park) directly adjoins the 145,000 hectare Bukit Tigapuluh National Park.

Additional habitat for more than 300 orangutans

On behalf of the Indonesian Nature Conservation Agency the Frankfurt Zoological Society has been reintroducing seized illegal pet orangutans into Bukit Tigapuluh since 2002. The project aim is to establish an independent and viable population of Sumatran orangutans in Bukit Tigapuluh. Project director Dr Peter Pratje is euphoric: „The now granted conservation concession provides additional habitat for more than 300 orangutans. The granting of this concession by the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry was an important milestone towards the conservation of this critically endangered species!” Apart from being a new home for orangutans the concession area also serves as an important habitat for the critically endangered Sumatran tigers and Sumatran elephants.

Improvement of forest structure and intensive protection of the concession area

Peter Pratje
Project director Peter Pratje in Bukit Tigapuluh National Park.

 

The management of the concession is partially funded for five years via the KfW Development Bank with almost 3.6 million Euro by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (German: Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, Bau und Reaktorsicherheit, short BMUB) in the framework of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). In the future this concession will be managed by a non-profit company founded specifically for this purpose.

   

Its tasks will comprise the improvement of forest structure and the intensive protection of the concession area as well as the development of a participative forest utilisation plan, in which the local communities will form part of the sustainable and environmentally friendly utilisation of the forest.

 

The granting of the licence was concluded after many years of struggle with the paper industry, which intended to claim the rainforest area for conversion into acacia plantations. However, the international campaigns of two of the biggest environmental organisations, Greenpeace and WWF, against the destruction of tropical rainforests for the expansion of industrial production areas finally led to a change of attitude in the paper industry. In the end, the management level of the two biggest paper manufacturers of Asia conceded under the public pressure. Their voluntary moratorium to stop the conversion of natural forest into plantations has paved the way for this conservation concession.

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