More dams to build in the Sebangau peat-swamp forest


More dams are currently built on the two canals in the Sebangau peat-swamp forest this year as a part of long-term conservation efforts by Borneo Nature Foundation (BNF) that receives generous supports from The Darwin Initiative,  The Orangutan Project (TOP), U.S Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), Arcus Foundation, and Tri Upcycle. The dam construction involves participation from the field staff, the Conservation Team (of BNF), and international volunteers who conducted canal surveys and hidrology monitoring  & canal survey since september 2018.

Hydrology survey and monitoring to the canals prior to the canal-blocking construction
Photo by Daniel | BNF | CIMTROP

The projects are now focused on the two canals namely Ruslan and Adun which are situated one and half kilometers away from camp. In Adun, the dams construction takes place on the forest edge. In addition to that, there will be more dams to build in Ruslan canal which is close to the nursery area. These dams are expected to help rewetting ex-burnt area that now become the central concern of reforestation activities.

The materials and equipment transport to the canals have always been challenging part of the construction
Photo by Daniel | BNF | CIMTROP

The mobilization of the materials and equipment to the two canals were carried out from October to November 2018. It’s the hardest part of canal-blocking construction. These materials and equipment were first transported from Kereng, the nearest village, by boat to camp. Then, the field staff and local workers had to bring them walking on the spongy peatland to the surveyed canals. Bringing these heavy supplies and trapped in the peat holes while walking on the forest floor are really demanding experience. Yet, this dam building project is really significant for the conservation of the peat-swamp forest.

Dam constructions carried out by local communities
Photo by BNF | CIMTROP

Keeping the peatland wet throughout the year is very important in the Sebangau peat-swamp forest as it will help slowing the rate of dry season drawdown, retaining water in the system, raising the water-table and keeping the peat wetter for longer; it keeps forest litterfall in the ecosystem, filling the canals in naturally; and the dams discourage people from entering the forest to remove more timber.

“Long drainage in the deep canals will easily catch the fire and that the fire can spread very quickly to surrounding areas in the forest. Therefore, Building dams is quite effective to reducing the water flow in the canals” said Idrus, the local patrol team involved in the canal-blocking construction.

BNF has started the dam building projects 7 years ago with over 650 dams built in the Sebangau forest in 2016-2017. This is a long-term conservation effort that has lasting impact to the forest and community.

The support from our funders has allowed us to bring larger impacts through our conservation effort for local communities and the majestic forest of Borneo. “With that support, this year we’re able to kickstart the community nursery initiative in the local villages of Sebangau and build more dams in the Sebangau forest therefore. The dams will help providing the essential water supplies for rewetting the dried areas of the forest during dry season” said Yunsiska Ermiasi, BNF’s Conservation Manager.

The trees were overplanted on the canal-blocking constructions to create permanent & living dams
Photo by Daniel | BNF | CIMTROP