Tag Archives: deforestation

HRH The Prince of Wales’ New Rainforest Video

HRH The Prince of Wales launched a global public awareness campaign last week to save rainforests.

The focal point of the campaign is this 90 second public awareness film in which HRH The Prince of Wales appears alongside his sons and an array of well-known faces including Harrison Ford, the Dalai Lama, Daniel Craig and Robin Williams.

Support for the cause can be demonstrated by the public by signing up on The Prince’s Rainforest Trust website http://www.rainforestsos.org/

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/wxpmBlvaynU" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Volunteering in Belantikan – The Morning Commute

Its 6:30 on the 3rd December and we’re on our morning commute to work. Our boat is cutting its way through the rapids of the river and we’re on the look out for crocodiles lurking on the banks.

morning commute - belantikan

Morning commute – the rapid at Nanga Matu the starting point for the morning commute to work!

On the river - Belantikan

On the river – mist over the Belantikan river on the early morning journey to work.

On this early morning a mist still hangs over the top of the forest-covered hills on either side of the river. All around us the forest still thrives, providing sufficient sustenance for both the huge range of wildlife and the small village communities that have made this beautiful corner of Kalimantan their home. We are on the way to teach in one of these villages, Kahingai, and it’s the most incredible commute to work I could ever imagine, but sad too to think what this might be like in five years time if the fate of the forest here follows much of the rest of Kalimantan.

Our journey up to Belantikan from Pangkalan Bun, one month ago, showed us what the future might hold for the forest here. Passing us on the road heading back to town were the biggest trees I’ve ever seen, all stacked up two by two on the trucks that filed past in a long procession. Further piles of enormous dead trunks, neatly stripped of all unnecessary leaves and branches, lay by the side of the road awaiting transportation.

Logging concession - destruction of the forest on the road to Belantikan

Logging concession – destruction of the forest on the road to Belantikan

Rampant logging was only part of the problem; most of the journey out was through oil palm plantations, with the neat ranks of oil palm advancing into the former territory of the wild forest. The new plantation is a parody of the original forest, providing no home to the orangutan or other animals, and when the planters have finished they leave a land degraded that can never become forest again. If Borneo was once a Garden of Eden then what has been done to the trees here makes stealing a bit of fruit look very innocent indeed.

oil palm plantations en route to Belantikan

Oil Palm Plantations on the way to Belantikan (Photo: Orangutan Foundation)

We were fortunate enough on our journey up to Belantikan to have an unscheduled overnight stop off in a richer part of the jungle when our van, swerving to avoid a fallen tree, got stuck in the mud.

Van stuck in ditch

Our accomodation for a night in the jungle, a van stuck in a ditch.

The accommodation, on the back seat of a van sunken on one side into a deep muddy ditch, wasn’t the most comfortable, but it was amazing to wake up with the dawn to a chorus of gibbons in the trees overhead. We were also lucky enough to see a deer flash across our path to disappear into the trees on the other side of the road. We were still in the territory of the logging concession that envelops Belantikan, but in a relatively untouched part of the forest. A well-policed logging concession can actually be considered the lesser of three evils, and there are fears of what might happen to Belantikan when the concession expires in 2012 if the twin terrors of illegal logging and palm oil move in en masse. It raises the question, what will be left when the children we are teaching today have grown up?

Orangutan driving a message home in London

Stephen is out in the field all week and so won’t have any internet access. Hopefully we’ll hear from him when he gets back. We thought we’d show some photos from last week. Helen, who volunteers one day a week in the UK office, has written a short piece about driving an orangutan around London (don’t worry it wasn’t real!) on Orange Day. Over to Helen….

Helen & Ou in Gwiz

“One of last week’s Orangutan Awareness events involved the London office borrowing a G-Wiz (electric car) in order to highlight the effect deforestation and carbon emissions have on the plight of the orangutan. I was happy to offer to drive the car around for the day with the company of my very own orangutan!! I drove around central london and tried to stick to the roads where there would be the most pedestrians so that as many people as possible might spot the car.

Helen & Ou in Gwiz

As it was ‘Orange for Orangutans” day I wore an orange t-shirt and one of the bright orange hats that Ashley’s mum knitted for us. I think the hat helped alot as people would spot the bright orange out of the corner of their eye then notice that not only was I driving a g-wiz emblazoned with stickers but that I had an orangutan sitting in the passenger seat.

Gwiz orangutans

Close up orangutan

I had a very amusing time especially whilst driving up Constitution Hill. I had timed my drive so it was just after the changing of the guards when there tends to be more people outside the palace. Whilst we were waiting for the guards to trot up the hill and back to their stables a gentleman in the taxi in front noticed the orangutan. He pointed it out to his friends in the taxi and they all had a good look and a giggle! I also had lots of waves from people on buses whilst stuck in traffic. Hopefully lots of people noticed us and read the stickers and were persuaded to join the Foundation.”

Gwiz orangutans

Thank you Helen for being such a sport and thank you Gwiz for the use of the car.

Make it an orangutan week!

It’s Orangutan Awareness Week 2008! A focus for groups or individuals to hold fundraising events and raise awareness of the threats to orangutans and their rainforest habitat. Stephen will be blogging throughout the week and we will also bring you a couple of guest posts. Gary Shapiro, Orangutan Republik Education Initiative will blog about how Orangutan Awareness Week began and Ian Singleton from the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme will report about their efforts to save the Tripa Swamps in Sumatra.

This year we decided to highlight the important role the orangutan’s habitat, the tropical forests of Borneo and Sumatra, has in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. Deforestation is the second largest cause of global warming. Andrew Mitchell, Director of the forest conservation organisation, Global Canopy Programme and a trustee of the Orangutan Foundation said, “If deforestation is the front line for forests in the war on climate change then orangutans are the ambassadors being burnt at the stake. Emissions from deforestation are equivalent to 36 million people flying from London to New York every day and unless this is halted we will lose the fight against Global Warming. The global community has one year to agree a workable mechanism for including forest emissions in the global climate deal to be agreed next year in Copenhagen. We along with our orange cousins watch with fear and hope.” Read Andrew Mitchell’s Director’s Journal.
Close up

I know Stephen has used this photo before but I think it is well worth using again.

Orangutan Foundation programmes protect orangutan habitat by preventing the destruction and burning of the tropical forests and this helps to reduce global warming. We are also investigating whether it is possible to utilise carbon markets in order to conserve the Belantikan Hulu Forests. Please visit our website to find out more about what we are doing and how you can help. View short film on Tanjung Puting National Park  
If you’re doing something for orangutans this week we’d love to hear from you and it still isn’t too late – go orange for orangutans this Friday!

Brigitta, many thanks for your monthly donation – this regular support is very important to us.

Thank you,

Cathy

Orangutan Foundation (UK Office).