Research & Conservation Project in Barito Ulu

Map Of Borneo

Orangutan Appeal UK (OAUK) has recently been working with The Borneo Nature Foundation (BNF) on their research and conservation project in the region of Barito Ulu. This region is the gateway to one of the most richly diverse and remote forests at the centre of the island of Borneo.

BNF have identified the Barito Ulu region as being critical for orangutan conservation but it is becoming increasingly threatened by development.  Borneo’s forests are being cleared at an ever-increasing rate by fire, agriculture, timber plantations and other development.  Coal and gold mining are also having a dramatic impact. Orangutan numbers are predicted to be reduced by 2050 to just 10% of the mid-1970’s population as a result.

BNF’s ultimate goal in this region is the preservation of the forests and biodiversity including its important ape populations. To do this they believe that it is critical to re-establish a research presence in the area and plan to work together with stakeholders to improve nature conservation in partnership with development.  The first steps taken towards this goal were to start restoring an old University of Cambridge research station which had become dilapidated and recruit some local staff.  Using the restored research station as a base they will then be able to develop relationships with the local community and industry stakeholders to improve landscape conservation.

Rekut Camp

OAUK have provided start-up support for this project with funding going towards restoring and equipping the research station and we are very excited to be involved with this important work.

Since the project began BNF have encountered a few set backs with their plans and it has become apparent that additional political groundwork needs to be completed before any camp reconstruction or major research activities can commence.  Putting proper foundations in place at the start of the project has proven more challenging and time consuming than originally envisaged, but is essential in ensuring its long-term local acceptance and feasibility and, ultimately therefore, its success.

To work towards their goal BNF are currently working on developing local government contacts and connections and have recruited a dedicated field team for project implementation.

Owing to the ongoing threat from illegal logging incursion in the area, they have been continuing to conduct regular river and forest patrols, to identify and prevent any instances of illegal logging. This continued regular presence is essential for maintaining local perceptions of site use and thus preventing illegal activities, such as logging. BNF have also begun discussing their research and camp reconstruction plans with the local community, who generally appear to be supportive of their plans.

We are looking forward to seeing how the project will progress over the next few months.