Hello Monday from Iwan: OuTrop field assistant

Hello Monday Blog

Iwan, a local field assistant, has been working with OuTrop for nearly 10 years. Here, he talks about his wide range of experience and what he hopes for the future of the forest.

I first joined OuTrop in 2005 to help with the orangutan research project. Before I got started I took part in training sessions to learn all about taking data on orangutans and trees, including identifying the tree species and how to measure tree height and distance estimation from my position. By the end of 2005, I also started to work on the gibbon behaviour research project and continued working with OuTrop for one year. 

I then took a break for two years, when I worked on other ecological projects, until the end of 2009 when I rejoined OuTrop and focused on the biodiversity projects. My work with OuTrop has evolved over the years and I am now assisting, Sara Thornton, with her PhD research on the freshwater fish of the Sabangau Forest.

Myself and Dudin (who is also a field assistant) check the fish traps on the Sabangau River. Photo by Sara Thornton/OuTrop

Before joining OuTrop in 2005, I worked as an assistant for a researcher from Japan. We carried out research on the mice and squirrels in the Sabangau Forest for about 6 months. 

I have no formal educational background related to conservation or the environment, and everything I have learnt has been ‘on the job’ and from the researchers I have had the pleasure of working with.

When off work, I usually fill my spare time with fishing. As well as a hobby, it also increases my income to support my family. I don’t catch a lot of fish every time I go fishing as it depends on the season. But, I am still grateful for what I am able to catch. 

Discussing the results of the fish research project with PhD student, Sara Thornton.

I hope that everyone can think and act positively towards the forest. But, I think not everyone knows the benefit of the forests and are not aware of the need to protect it. The first step is to tell people in the immediate environment. I always try to inform people about the importance of conserving forests and hope this message is passed on.