2016 has been an exciting year for Borneo Nature Foundation. It has been a year of many changes and we have entered a new chapter in our history. But, one thing remains the same and is even stronger than ever, and that is our commitment to protecting Borneo’s incredible biodiversity.
Although we can’t include everything we have done over the past year on this list, here are the activities which we are particularly proud of. We hope you enjoy reading this as much as we enjoyed writing it!
1. Launch of Borneo Nature Foundation
In July we announced the launch of our new umbrella organisation ‘Borneo Nature Foundation’. BNF has been created, by the directors and staff of the Orangutan Tropical Peatland Project (OuTrop), to expand our projects throughout a wider range of habitat types and to protect more species. The new name reflects our wider goals, to protect the natural environment of this wonderful island, and man’s place in it.
2. Established a new conservation programme
Our newest programme ‘Rungan River Orangutan Conservation Programme’, launched this year, takes a landscape approach to the conservation of the Rungan River watershed, with the aim to protect this rich forest (>100,000 hectares) and its large resident Bornean orangutan population. The area is home to over 1,000 orangutans, which is probably the largest orangutan population currently living in a forest that is designated for conversion to plantation. Our project aims to build a foundation for conservation in the Rungan River Landscape, through partnerships with communities, industry and government stakeholders across this large and important area.
3. Joined forces with local partners
During 2016 we formalised our partnerships with two local universities, the University of Palangka Raya (UPR) and Universitas Muhammadiyah Palangka Raya (UMP). These collaborations help improve our effectiveness in protecting Borneo’s biodiversity as they enable us to carry out biodiversity monitoring, on-the-ground conservation activities and forest fire prevention. It is hoped that in the future students from these universities will also benefit from experience with us.
4. Published a children’s storybook
In 2016 the Borneo Nature Foundation team published a children’s storybook called ‘The Little Gibbon Who Lost His Song‘. This bilingual book (English and Indonesian) aims to give children an insight into the amazing species that call the forest home. They will go on a journey discovering many forest animals and the interesting behaviours of these unique species. But, ultimately, our hope is for children to understand that the forest is at risk from fires and people in Borneo play a crucial role in keeping it safe for the future. Support our Books for Borneo crowdfunding campaign supported by Sir David Attenborough.
5. Went on expediton to an unexplored forest
In partnership with Muhammadiyah University of Palangka Raya (UMP), we took 14 UMP students and 8 volunteers on a research expedition to the Mungku Baru Education Forest in the Rungan River Landscape. With very little known about this forest, every day brought new discoveries. We undertook surveys to describe the forest habitat, its biodiversity and its importance for key animal species, including primates and forest cats. Although previously a conservation afterthought, this area is revealing an incredible diversity of wildlife. Check out our amazing camera trap footage from the area.
6. Hosted our first international youth conference
Between 16-18 September, we hosted the first ever Global Issues Network (GIN) youth conference in Kalimantan in partnership with Bina Cita Utama (BCU) School. More than 300 students, teachers and presenters came together at the BCU School in Palangka Raya for the three-day conference. It is the intention of this conference that in spreading knowledge and sharing experiences, it inspires the students to move towards practical solutions for issues that they care about. GIN Kalimantan also provided a stage to launch our exciting new nature photo exhibition I am the Forest, which exhibits the beautiful, unique flora and fauna of Kalimantan. Want to see what happened during the conference? Watch GIN Kalimantan 2016!
7. Developed our Educaton Programme
Our Education Programme continues to go from strength to strength as we work to create a conservation generation. Alongside our school visits and student field trips to the Sabangau Forest, our Anak Sabangau programme (or ‘Children of Sabangau’) has grown significantly over the past year. At the end of 2015, 35 children joined our weekly activites in the village of Kereng. Now, over 70 children join our environmental education classes each week. The children’s commitment to learn about the environment and improve their own reading, writing and maths skills has been hugely impressive. They were able to showcase what they have learnt during Festival Anak Sabangau at the end of this year.
8. Contributed to conservation assessments
This year the Bornean orangutan was sadly declared ‘Critically Endangered’ due to hunting, habitat destruction, habitat degradation and fragmentation. Simon Husson, BNF co-director, says that the designation of Critically Endangered status must be used as a wake-up call to halt the devastation of Borneo’s rainforests. “It is not too late to save the orangutan, but to do so the Indonesian Government must stop the conversion of forests to oil palm plantations and must prevent the annual burning of peatlands through restoration and law enforcement. Only by properly managing the remaining forests can Borneo’s amazing biodiversity be preserved.” For the full story check out the Mongabay article.
9. Shared our work
We continued to publish our work and share our research findings with the wider conservation community. With contributes from BNF co-director, Dr Susan Cheyne, an international research team under the leadership of the German Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Species Survival Commission, has published a roadmap for more targeted conservation efforts for Bornean cats and small carnivores in a special supplement of the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology. Full catalogue of our publications here.
10. Welcomed students from Green School, Bali
We welcomed students from the Green School (Bali) at the start of May 2016. They spent two days with our OuTrop project in the Sabangau Forest learning all about our conservation and research work. Green School students are changemakers of the future and we hope their visit to Sabangau inspired them to help protect the rainforests of Borneo. We look forward to welcoming the school back in 2017!
There were so many great things in 2016, we just had to add one more….
11. Continued our work in the Sabangau Forest
Our longest-running programme the Orangutan Tropical Peatland Project (OuTrop), based in the Sabangau Forest, remains the flagship programme of the Borneo Nature Foundation, and here we will continue to undertake our long-term ecological research; peatland restoration efforts and support the TSA Kalteng Community Patrol Team and other fire-fighting teams in Central Kalimantan, who put their lives on the line to stop fires and save the forest.
As we go into 2017 please support our vital work to protect Borneo’s biodiversity by making a donation.