The Fire-Fighting Project


OAUK has been supporting the Borneo Nature Foundation (Formally known as OuTrop) since 2012. BNF work to protect large forested landscapes in the area of Borneo known as Central Kalimantan, which contains several of the most important remaining populations of the Bornean orangutan. One of the biggest threats here is forest fires and we help BNF with the work undertaken to control and extinguish the fires when they break out each dry season.

Peat fires occur annually and are the single biggest risk to this forested area. Fires are often the result of land-clearing by burning. Peat swamp drainage from old illegal logging canals makes matters worse because the dry peat is highly flammable.

In 2015 a strong El Niño climate event led to severe forest fires throughout Indonesia and the situation became critical for both people and wildlife. Orangutan Appeal UK is continuing long running support of the teams on the ground that monitor and control the forest fires so that they can help to prevent such a devastating event from occurring again.

Local Fire Fighters

We help to provide funding and equipment for community-based teams of fire-fighters and aim to ensure that they are as well prepared as possible in order to protect this remarkable ecosystem and its globally important orangutan population. As of 2018 there are now six local fire fighting teams affiliated to BNF which have been trained and fully equipped.

In 2018 the BNF Community Patrol Team implemented three informal activities each month, explaining to local fishermen, farmers and forest users about the threat of fire and the role that community members can play in mitigating this threat. They also held workshops with eight local schools to teach them about the need to protect this valuable eco-system.

BNF are also working to restore the peat-land conditions by building dams on the illegal canals and keeping them waterlogged to reduce the fire risk.

Oauk Drone

In 2015 we purchased a quad-coptor drone which has become an incredibly useful tool. Thermal infrared detectors mounted on the drone help to detect and manage underground fires. In 2016, following on from the success of the first drone, we helped to support the construction of a custom-made fixed-wing (or plane) drone. This type of drone can fly much further and flight paths can be pre-programmed enabling the cheap and easy patrolling of large forest areas. Read more here

There were over 37 fire-fighting interventions by BNF patrol teams in the 2018 dry season which meant that hundreds of Bornean orangutans resident in the area were protected from fire.

Data on fire occurrence is being collected by the fire fighting teams to help further research into how to control this threat to habitat.

Supporting the fire-fighting teams is just one of the many ways we help orangutan conservation. If you would like to support this and other projects that we run, you can donate to the charity by visiting our Donations Page. Thank you.