2nd Quarter Report – Year 2010
April – May – June
Wildlife Protection, Habitat Restoration, Community Wellbeing
FNPF’s wildlife and habitat restoration work in Borneo is in Tanjung Putting National Park (TPNP), the largest national park in SE Asia. You can read more about TPNP athttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanjung_Puting . We deliver our community development work to the villages that border the national park, close to our project sites (see map). Our holistic approach combines wildlife protection, habitat restoration and community wellbeing.
Our projects sites are at Pesalat, Beguruh, and Jerumbun
Pesalat Reforestation Site
Pesalat is our longest running site in Borneo. Pesalat is about 45 minutes by boat upriver from Tanjung Harapan (also known as Sekonyer village) and about 15 minutes down river from Pondok Tanggui. There are Orangutan rehabilitation centres at Tanjung Harapan and Pondok Tanggui.
Prior to the national park being extended in 1984, Pesalat was an area of the traditional slash and burn farming, so when we started our project it was severely degraded … completely cleared of trees and overrun by imperata grass. Despite being surrounded by secondary forest, natural forest regeneration cannot occur because of the imperata grass, an aggressive weed that overpowers any tree seedlings and prevents them form growing. The area is mostly flat and includes both peat swamp and dry land.
For the past 8 years we have focused on reforesting the dry areas, which were once dominated by Iron Wood trees. We have planted on over 50 Hectares (HA), initially planting 400 saplings per HA, and then planting additional saplings almost every day to increase the density and diversity of the trees, and to replace any dead saplings with new.
In addition to the reforestation work, our team also maintains the park infrastructure on behalf of the park management. The site includes a conservation education centre and the camping ground in Tanjung Putting National Park for visitors.
Our day-to-day work at Pesalat includes the following:
- Post-planting monitoring and maintenance. For 3 years after planting we protect the young saplings by cutting back the weed grass that grows so aggressively in areas where native forest has been cleared. After 3 years of post-planting maintenance and care, the saplings are strong and large enough to grow independently and without risk from being suffocated by the weed grass. Plus in this process we are able to monitor the progress of each sapling. The survival rate is currently about 73%. When we discover a dead sapling, we replace it with a new sapling.
- Patrolling for fire prevention. Risk from fire is severe. Farmers on lands bordering the national park (and also those illegally farming within TPNP) that use slash and burn methods are the primary cause of fires spreading into the park. So monitoring and preventing the spread of fires is a constant task. Our good relationship with the community means that they assist us, both in terms of monitoring and helping to extinguish fires and/or preventing them from spreading.
- Seed and seedling collection. Whilst patrolling the adjoining forest areas, our staff constantly collects seeds and seedlings to take back to our nursery, or to the village cooperative nursery.
- Planting seeds and seedlings in the nursery. Collected seeds are planted in seed pads in our nursery to produce seedlings. And these seedlings and those collected from the forest are planted in the nursery to grow saplings for planting. Currently we are focusing particularly (but not exclusively) on producing more Iron Wood saplings because this region used to have a lot of Iron Wood trees.
- Plant at least 5 saplings per day in the reforestation site. This is to increase the density and diversity on the planting site.
- Giving information to any visitors who visit this area. In this way, we hope to educate visitors on the challenges and goals of the conservation project.
On June 27th 2010, Basuki Budi Santoso, our Borneo site manager (previously reforestation manager), married Ika Francisca Didin Kurniawati at the Pesalat reforestation site. The local community joined them for their marriage celebration and all of the attendees participated in planting over 300 saplings. FNPF sends Basuki and Ika our congratulations. Please feel free to send Basuki and Ika your best wishes via us … we will forward them to the happy couple.
Beguruh Reforestation Site
The Beguruh site is a mixture of dry land and wetland peat swamp. Our dry land reforestation site is about 1 hour walk from the Tanjung Harapan orangutan rehabilitation and release post, and our wetland reforestation site an additional 30 minutes. As with Pesalat, the area is severely degraded of trees, with natural tree regeneration restricted by the imperata weed on the dry areas and by blade grass and ferns in the wetland peat swamps.
We have worked here for the last 4 years and have planted and maintained 50,000 saplings on 125 HA of dry land (400 per HA). Our survival rate after 3 years is over than 70%, and our staff replace the dead saplings with new. Plus our staff plant additional trees on almost a daily basis to increase the density and diversity of the trees.
In 2009 we started planting on a 40 HA site of severely degraded wetlands. We have no guidance on how to reforest the wetlands because it has never been done before in TPNP. Over the last 5 years we have carried out numerous wetland planting experiments to gain experience and develop a planting method for this large wetland project.
Reforesting a wetland peat swamp present very different challenges to the dry land.
- Access to the planting site is extremely difficult because it is swamp for most of the year.
- We can only plant in the dry season when the area is accessible. During the wet season the area is covered in swamp water.
- The saplings that we plant must establish themselves and grow tall enough during the dry season to survive when the swamp water returns in the wet season.
- Most of the wetland is covered by ferns and “blade grass”, which makes natural regeneration almost impossible, and means that we must continuously cut back and clear the weeds from suffocating the planted saplings. The “blade grass” is extremely sharp and cuts the feet and legs of the staff, making work in the area very difficult. Plus it will suffocate the saplings unless we repeatedly cut it back. Just like in Pesalat, we monitor and maintain the saplings for 3 years after planting, after which we expect the trees to be large and strong enough to grow independently. All saplings that die are replaced with new saplings.
- Fires are a major threat and more dangerous than in the dry areas, because of the underlying peat. Once peat ignites, it can continue burn for months (or even years) and will only be put out if there are extended periods of heavy rain.
Fires are a major threat and more dangerous than in the dry areas, because of the underlying peat. Once peat ignites, it can continue burn for months (or even years) and will only be put out if there are extended periods of heavy rain.
In April 2010 we planted 2,400 saplings on 6 HA to complete the reforestation of our 40HA site. During this month we also did post planting monitoring and maintenance on the first 10HA of previously planted saplings.
We also assisted and supervised a 1 HA reforestation project by the local cooperative, Sekonyer Lestari, from the Sekonyer village. The Hutan Group of Japan is funding this project. We helped the cooperative find a suitable site and supervised the planting and post planting maintenance.
In May 2010 we did maintenance work on the second 10 Ha of previously planted saplings. We also started to make a detailed map of the saplings that we planted on the first 20 HA. We continued to assist and supervise Sekonyer Lestari cooperative to plant saplings on their 1 HA project.
In June 2010, we finished the post planting and mapping of the first 10 HA. The results show that 3,000 of the 4,000 saplings are still growing successfully on the plot. This is a 75% success rate, and is exceptionally good, especially in such difficult conditions. The results suggest that our approach of regular post planting maintenance is effective. The dead saplings were replaced with new saplings. We hope to complete the mapping of the second 10 HA in July.
From April 22nd – 24th 2010, we hosted the 40th Earth Day camping at the Pesalat Reforestation Site. 29 high school students from Kumai and Pangkalan Bun participated in this event. Our staff presented a range of conservation issues and goals to the students, and the students planted 130 saplings on the site.
On April 24th we assisted 33 primary school children and 5 teachers from the Sokenyer and Bedaun primary schools. The students were shown the whole process of reforestation work: seed and seedling collection in the forest; sapling production in the nursery; reforestation site selection and preparation; planting of the saplings; and post planting maintenance and care. Our staff also presented the conservation challenges and goals to the students and teachers.
On May 30th 2010 we supervised students from Pangkalan Bun high school who are participating in an international geography Olympiad. The students camped for 3 days at our site and were shown the Iron Wood trees and all participated in making paper from Iron Wood.
On May 31st we took 30 students and 7 of their teachers from Bedaun primary and junior high school on a field trip to Tanjung Harapat Post and Pesalat. They were shown the conservation work and the reforestation process. We also had a very constructive discussion with the teachers about their plan to include conservation education into their curriculum, like the 2 high schools that we have been working with over the years. We have started to compile the conservation lessons into a conservation education booklet for the primary and junior schools to use.
In June 2010 we did not do any field trips due to heavy rains almost every day through the month. Instead, our staff visited the Bedaun Village school and discussed the possibility of incorporating the conservation education into their curriculum, and also how the education can be spread to the wider community. Unlike Sekonyer village which still has some native forest outside of the nearby protected area of Tanjung Putting National Park, Bedaun Village does not have any forest left due to Palm Oil plantations. We are in the process of compiling a lesson plan for the students according to their age. No such book is available. We hope to involve the teachers so that they participate and contribute in the creation of a conservation education booklet for Borneo.
All of our staff, except the manager Basuki, come from Sekonyer Village, so we actively participate in social activities in the village, such as maintaining the drainage at the village and meetings about the village development. We also supervise the Sekonyer Lestari cooperative group. This is the only cooperative group around Tanjung Puting National Park that has a tree sapling nursery business (it was originally created by FNPF and then handed over by FNPF to the village cooperative). Our team continues to provide assistance and supervision in the day-to-day operations, technical issues, and the business and marketing plans.
The cooperative nursery group is now capable of producing over 20,000 saplings per year. In June, the cooperative nursery sold over 600 saplings to CV Trubus Karya Tani to be planted in Pangkalan Bun, plus 400 saplings to Hutan Group of Japan for planting on 1 HA in Beguruh. We keep trying to promote the cooperative to help increase their sales so that the nursery provides an income to the village whilst also supporting reforestation. Currently FNPF is the biggest customer.
In June 2010 we assisted the ”Balai Benih” Government Nursery Unit from Banjar Baru to do who did a survey of seed source in the park. They plan to certify specific areas as the seed source for TPNP, so that only saplings grown from these seeds can be sold for replanting in TPNP. This certification is one of the conditions that the Sekonyer Lestari cooperative group nursery will need to meet in order to continue selling saplings to government reforestation projects, such as by FNPF.
In June we also did maintenance work on our agro-forestry demonstration plot at Jerumbun. Currently the plot is mainly rubber trees, planted over the last 3 years, but will combine livestock, short term crops (vegetable and fruit) and long term crops (rubber trees and Eagle Wood). We hope to use this place as a learning center for sustainable farming.
We have completed our new boat and sailed it to Sungai Cabang, a coastal area of TPNP where we used to have our turtle conservation project. This first sail was not only to test the ability of our new boat but also to retain our relationship with this village. We want the village to continue protect turtle eggs laid along a section of the beach. Our boat disturbs the wildlife and local people much less than other boats because it is the first boat in the area to not use a diesel engine. We hope that over time more boats will use this kind of engine when visiting TPNP.
In June 2010 we assisted the tourism cooperative group at Sekonyer Village Tegari Lestari to maintain the trekking trail. The trekking trail is an important aspect of eco tourism because it improves the visitor experience (comfort and safety) and protects the wildlife and habitat by retaining the visitors along a trail where they can view the forest without causing damage.