USAID actively promotes orangutan habitat conservation, which is a specific priority of the U.S. Congress. The $11.5 million initiative for FY 2004-2008 is a key investment to help Indonesia preserve some of the world’s most highly valued biodiversity in Kalimantan (Borneo) and Sumatra.
Orangutan habitat conservation projects are working in the world’s last remaining areas with significant orangutan populations in the wild: the provinces of East Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, and North Sumatra. The main drivers of habitat loss and population decline include forest conversion and logging which are consequences of poor land use decisions that followed the push toward decentralization in Indonesia.
East Kalimantan’s last large orangutan habitat
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and World Education (WE) are working to protect critical habitat and improve livelihoods in East Kalimantan. TNC is working to secure about 50,000 hectares from timber production, setting aside the area as an orangutan refuge and promoting good forest management practices in the buffer zone. A collaborative management approach is catalyzing local governments to take action while creating and strengthening community organizations to protect and wisely manage valuable forests. These efforts have effectively stopped illegal logging in the project areas.
TNC and WE have helped indigenous Dayak communities to improve livelihoods and secure land rights. For example, in one area previously zoned as a forest concession the community successfully pressed authorities to give the land protection status to support traditional uses. The forest is largely intact given the rugged landscape and serves as a home to a diverse blend of orangutans, leopard, sunbear, deer, hornbills, and other endangered species. Now the forest is Dayak traditional land, and the community and local government funds and manages park patrols, forest management, and surveys of ecological and biological resources.
Tanjung Puting National Park, Central Kalimantan
World Education (WE) and the Orangutan Foundation International (OFI) are working with Tanjung Puting National Park management to provide patrols, training, border demarcation and enforcement, and water quality monitoring. The project is improving stakeholder-based decision processes related to conservation and development inside the park, together with community learning in agricultural development and natural resources management. Farmer food security and income generation is improving through the project’s agricultural development research on various crops and livestock.
Orangutan habitat protection, North Sumatra
Conservation International (CI) and the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF) are working in Batang Toru, North Sumatra to support communities and partners to protect this important watershed and orangutan habitat while improving livelihoods. The program is improving enforcement effectiveness and catalyzing a local strategy for conservation. Through this process the community is developing conservation-based income alternatives and supporting initiatives of local entrepreneurs.
TNC’s work in the Lesan and Wehea areas of East Kalimantan has led to effective forest management and a reduction in habitat loss and hunting. The program has facilitated the development of co-management structures in these sites involving local district governments and communities. Substantial financial support from local governments is evidence of local commitment to the program and is a model for effective and financially sustainable conservation.
In Central Kalimantan’s Tanjung Puting National Park, World Education (WE) and the Orangutan Foundation International (OFI) have brought together the interests of the park and nearby villagers. WE is successfully developing the local rural economy through agricultural improvements. Not having to buy rice spares household income and helps to reduce the temptation to illegally log the park or adjacent forests. The program built two community centers in villages within the park boundaries. By acting as bridge between the villagers and the park authorities, WE and OFI staff in the centers provide visible, daily evidence of support for the communities. Participatory patrolling involves nearby villages, OFI, WE and the forest police. OFI’s guard post and patrols continue to provide extensive ground coverage and protection to the core of the park.
In North Sumatra, Conservation International secured the support of the District Head of South Tapanuli to establish an orangutan conservation management entity in the Batang Toru watershed. The local government has also taken the additional step of requesting that the national Ministry of Forestry designate the area as a National Park.
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Orangutan Conservation Services Program (OCSP)
By early 2007 USAID will launch a new $8 million, 3-year program targeting select wild orangutan populations in Kalimantan and Sumatra. The USAID program will: 1) reduce the level of threat to select orangutan populations,
2) develop strategies that garner support by a multi-stakeholder constituency,
3) establish networks to support improved law enforcement and conservation management, and
4) set up sustainable financing schemes for long-term conservation at the sites.
This project will not support orangutan rehabilitation, re-introductions, or translocation efforts. This decision is in keeping with the scientific guidance that efforts with the highest conservation value are those protecting the habitat of populations in the wild.