Tag Archives: Forest Fires

Spare a few minutes to help save habitat of critically endangered great ape

Please sign this petition to the Indonesian President to halt the destuction of the Tripa Swamps, home to a few hundred critically endangered orangutans.

Press release from “Coalition to save the Tripa peat swamps”

Increase in fires burning in Tripa highlight Indonesian Government failing to cease deforestation; orangutan population doomed unless illegal activities halted immediately.

Tripa aerial flyover June 27 2012, 2pm

Another massive wave of fires currently sweeping across the Tripa peat swamp forests has highlighted the accelerating destruction and ongoing disregard of Indonesian National Law by palm oil companies inside the protected Leuser Ecosystem, despite a high level National Investigation launched months ago, which is yet to report on findings.

A recent spike in the number of fires was recorded by satellites monitoring fire hotspot activity in Sumatra, and confirmed by field staff yesterday who filmed and photographed numerous fires burning in the palm oil concessions operating right across in Tripa.

The five companies at present actively operating in Tripa have responded to the increased media scrutiny and current investigation by increasing security on their plantations. Some are even being guarded by military and police personnel stationed along access routes while illegally lit fires burn inside.

“The ongoing destructive activities of these companies during the investigation indicates their complete disregard for Indonesian law and the authority of the ongoing investigation, and the government is allowing this to happen.” Stated Kamaruddin, lawyer for the Tripa community.

“A direct Presidential Instruction is urgently required to bring an immediate halt to the rampant and illegal destruction of Tripa, not a speech telling the world deforestation is a thing of the past.” Kamaruddin added.

“There is no doubt that each of these companies is breaking several laws. Whilst we realize, and very much appreciate and support the investigation going on (by the Department of Environment), it’s proving to be too little too late. These companies simply have to be ordered to stop immediately, and that order to be strictly enforced, otherwise the Peat Forests and inhabitants of Tripa will be lost forever”, he added.

One of the five companies operating in Tripa, PT. Kallista Alam, was challenged in court and its concession area recently reinstated as off limits to deforestation and degradation in the 2nd revision of Moratorium Map on May 25th, 2012. This particular concession has been the subject of an ongoing legal battle as it clearly contravenes National Spatial Law No 26/2007 and Government Regulation 26/2008, since it was granted inside the Leuser Ecosystem National Strategic Area for environmental protection, in which no concessions can be granted that damage the environmental protection function of the ecosystem, and in which all activities that do damage the ecosystem must be halted, and damaged areas restored.

Fires continued to rage late yesterday in the northern stretches of the PT Kallista Alam concession. Likewise, numerous obviously deliberately set fires were also observed in the concessions of PT. Surya Panen Subur 2, PT. Cemerlang Abadi, PT. Gelora Sawita Makmur , PT. Dua Perkasa Lestari and an area known as the PT Patriot Guna Sakti Abadi concession, even though the latter was never formally granted.

“The situation is indeed extremely dire” reports Dr Ian Singleton of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme. “Every time I have visited Tripa in the last 12 months I have found several orangutans, hanging on for their very survival, right at the forest edge. Its very easy to find them and we have already evacuated a few lucky ones to safer areas. But when you see the scale and speed of the current wave of destruction and the condition of the remaining forests, there can be no doubt whatsoever that many have already died in Tripa due to the fires themselves, or due to starvation as a result of the loss of their habitat and food resources”, he explained.

The Tripa peat swamp forests have received considerable international attention, much of it focusing on the fact that the burning of Tripa’s peat swamp forests made a mockery of a 1 billion USD agreement between the Governments of Indonesia and Norway to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, also known as the REDD deal, since the peat alone in Tripa sequesters huge amount of carbon that is being released into the atmosphere even now .

Tripa was also high on the agenda at the first meeting between the newly inaugurated Governor of Aceh and the European Union, just a few days ago. Furthermore, on June 13th at a global policy address on the future of Indonesia’s forests, ahead of Rio+20 summit, at CIFOR, President SBY himself proclaimed that “deforestation is a thing of the past” and “Losing our tropical rain forests would constitute the ultimate national, global and planetary disaster.  That’s why Indonesia has reversed course by committing to sustainable forestry.”

Yet the ongoing destruction witnessed by the coalition team in recent days is a clear indication that these are simply empty words, and that Indonesia is giving no reasons for its international commitments to be taken as anything more than mere rhetoric.

Dr Singleton also pointed out, “There is still a decent orangutan population in Tripa, however hard and fast it is being extinguished, and there are also large tracts of land that have been cleared of forests but never used. If these companies were immediately instructed to stop all their destructive operations while the legal investigation process continues, and then removed, ideally with prosecutions and appropriate punishment, Tripa, its orangutan population, and many of the contributions it once made to local community livelihoods could still be restored.”

“But without an immediate halt it will all be lost, to the ultimate benefit of only a handful of already incredibly rich people based elsewhere. This whole thing makes absolutely no sense at all, not environmentally nor even economically. It is simply greed, on a massive scale. A simply staggering scale in fact.” Stressed Dr. Ian Singleton. 

Notes for Editors:

Further Hi-res photos available on www.endoftheicons.wordpress.com

Please find map below with satellite monitored fires from the period 17/06/12 – 26/06/12 new data will become available over the coming days

For Further Press inquiries, Please Contact:


Kamaruddin (Bahasa Indonesian Only)

Tripa Community Lawyer



Dr Ian Singleton

Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme

Email: [email protected]

Mobile: +62811650491


Also, for further media statement, please contact:


Saud Usman Nasution

Spokesperson for Indonesian National Police

+62 811 979 2222


PT. Kallista Alam

  • Komp. Taman Setiabudi Indah II, blok V (ruko) No. 11-14, Medan 20133 Phone: 061 – 8216541

Fax: 061 – 8216532

  • Jl.Cycas II Blok UU, No.55 Taman Setia Budi Indah, Medan, North Sumatera

Phone: 061-800200, 812380

Fax: 021-812380


PT. Surya Panen Subur 2

  • Jl.Pulo Ayang raya,Blok OR Kav.1 Kawasan industri Pulogadung Jakarta13930

Phone: (021)4616555

Fax: (021)4616550


PT. Cemerlang Abadi

  • Central Plaza, 3rd Floor, Jl.Jend.Sudirman Kav.47 Jakarta 12930

Phone: 021-5255414,5255413

Fax: 021-520748


PT. Dua Perkasa Lestari

  • Rasuna Office Park ZO 10-11 Rasuna Epicentrum, Jakarta

Phone: 021-83703232, 031-5925239

Fax: 021-83704488, 031-5925387


PT. Gelora Sawita Makmur

  • LENDMARK Centre,Tower A, 8th floor,Jl. Jend sudirman No.1 Jakarta 12910

Phone: (021)5712790, 5712853

Fax: (021)5712716

Forest Fires Flare Up Again – Your Help Needed!

Fires in Sabangau, Borneo (CIMTROP Sept 09)

Fires in Sabangau -CIMTROP© Images should not be used without permission 

We have just received the following communications from Professor Jack Rieley, a world expert on tropical peatlands, about the fire situation in Sabangau, which has worsened over the last few days. To help support the efforts of CIMTROP (Centre for International Cooperation in the Management of Tropical Peatland) the organisation on the ground tackling the fires, please use our general donation button and leave a comment stating your donation is for CIMTROP/Sabangau

Thank you for your support,

Orangutan Foundation

An SMS message from Dr Suwido Limin, director of CIMTROP, sent earlier today (24th Sept) from inside the major fire area in the upper Sabangau

  “Big fire started from our research transect, spread across middle of Taruna canal and trans Kalimantan highway up to dams 3&4. Fire speed is around 1 km per hour supported by strong wind all day. Now I am working at night with my team. The tree regeneration plot expected all burned but cannot see yet.” 

 Putting out forest fires, Sabangau, Borneo (CIMTROP Sept 09)

Above and below -with limited resources CIMTROP tackle the fires. CIMTROP© Images should not be used without permissionBurnt peat forest (CIMTROP Sept 09)

This was followed by another SMS from Dr Suwido Limin.

Now midnight. We are operating 4 pumps. I am manning one machine with Agung. I will work until morning but very tired.”  

Tired but dedicated -fire fighting teams tackle fires all day and night (CIMTROP Sept 2009) 

Training – CIMTROP© Images should not be used without permission

Email from Dr Suwido Limin sent to Jack Rieley (22nd Sept).

 ‘I have just come from Kalampangan. On this afternoon, we started to implement a new method. The fires become worst again!  In Taruna and Kalampangan fires started on the afternoon of 20th of September. Our team are still trying as much as possible to secure and save this area, but the fires spread very fast and the wind is moving rapidly so that we are being overwhelmed. Our team is working very hard, all day and night and one person was injured. We tried to secure two towers and several research equipments. Some areas of our reforestation project have been burned (eventuality).  I’m personally indeed truly sad with the worst situation. All of the TSA (fire-fighting team) power is limited and we are hardly able to extinguish the fires at this location. Neither can we enter and check inside the area (using the tower) because the road along the canal was burned and created many holes of embers.’   

 Fire-fighting team (TSA) Sabangau, Borneo (CIMTROP Sept 09)

TSA Training CIMTROP© Images should not be used without permission

Email from Dr Jyrki Jauhiainen (22nd Sept), a research scientist at the University of Helsink, who was in the Sabangau area until a few days ago. 

Arrived back to Finland yesterday afternoon. Things may be really bad in our peat research sites now. Haze was bad until last Wednesday, but we succeeded to get our sampling done & gas monitoring sites established. Wednesday evening there was heavy rain and that cleared air and suppressed many of the surface fires. Things seemed to be under control again despite some wind breeze on Friday & Saturday morning. We left from Palangka Raya (PKY) on Saturday as the sky was still clear (probably that was the last Garuda flight for some time).  SMS messages from PKY have been sad: gas monitoring plot & equipment in Block-B Berengbenkel lost, Kalampangan open area plot lost, Japanese open area minitower likely lost, Suwido worried about fate of tall Japanese towers and base camp, Taruna village evacuated, Siemenpuu area likely lost, many firemen in hospital due to respiratory problems… Many of the above mentioned areas cannot be accessed due to thick smoke and now health of people is more important. Suwido must be quite depressed and tired.’ 

Please consider donating to help CIMTROP tackle these fires.

Update on Fire Appeal

We have just heard from Ashley Leiman, Orangutan Foundation’s Director, who is currently in Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo that, as of today (27th August 2009), the local Department of Forestry has sent out fire fighting teams to localized fire hot spots.

The area where our field programmes are based has received virtually no rain for seven to eight weeks and all the rivers are extremely low. Ashley, who was calling from the Orangutan Foundation office in Pangkalan Bun, said “there is the smell of smoke in the air”. Orangutan Foundation has guard posts equipped with fire fighting equipment and our employees are alert and ready to take action if necessary.

Over two weeks ago we launched an appeal on behalf of our partners, CIMTROP (Centre for International Cooperation in the Management of Tropical Peatland), working in the Sebangau Forests.  Thank you to everyone who responded so quickly and generously, your donations will be directed to CIMTROP, who are working around the clock to tackle the raging fires.

Orangutan Foundation is now widening this fire appeal to include other forest areas at risk.

Video of Fires in Sebangau Forests Orangutan Habitat

The link below has been sent to us by Dr Suwido Limin, Director of CIMTROP (Centre for International Co-operation in Management of Tropical Peatland). It is a short video on YouTube showing footage of the fires in Kalampangan, Sebangau Forest.  It highlights just how dangerous CIMTROP’s work is.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/ZMR1XLMmJio" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

A huge thank you to Care For The Wild International for donating £3,600 through Orangutan Foundation to CIMTROP and to Orangutan Aid for donating £150. Thank you to our members, who have been very generous in donating to CIMTROP through Orangutan Foundation. Thank you David B for your donation through this blog.

If anyone is thinking of donating through Wildlife Direct please leave a comment stating your donation is for the Sebangau Fires.

Fire Fighting – Just a Duty or Dedication?

Last week the Central Kalimantan Agency for Conservation of Natural Resources (BKSDA) held motivation training sessions for their Forest Fire Brigade. They asked Orangutan Foundation staff to facilitate with this after the dedication they showed when tackling the recent fires that broke out in Sungai Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.

Forest Fire Fighting Award Ceremony

Pak Eko Novi, the Head of BKSDA SKW II Kalimantan Tengah, awarded a Manggala Agni (Forest Fire Brigade) Pin, to our staff at Danau Burung Post (Bird Lake Guard Post) because of their dedication and participation in tackling the fires.

Isam represented other KPEL (Partnership for Local Economic Development) staff (Sias, Amat, Fendy, Aris dan Jakir) at the award ceremony. It is hoped the award will help motivate other staff, BKSDA staff and the local community to have more responsibility and participation concerning the conservation of the Sungai Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.

At last week’s training session we aimed to build team cohesion and lift the spirits of the Forest Fire Brigade. We hope it will instill a sense of honour and the brigade will feel proud about their duties and their job. Fire fighting is not just a “job” but is “dedication” for nature conservation.

Motivation and team Building Session

Pak Hudi leading the motivation and team building session.

The team building and motivation sessions included various games:

Carry a Bomb. Each team must carry a bottle (as a bomb) with limited tools from one place to a target. The aim is to encourage teamwork, strategy, and role distribution within the team.

Team building exercise

Courier. Each team must deliver a message (a stick) from one place to another place only using their neck’s. This game has aim to build team work, strategy and the “quick think” response.

Team building exercise

O-O Game. A pair of participants must save themselves from plastic rope that binds their hands. This game has the aim to build problem solving strategy.

Thank you,

Pak Hudi

Programme Coordinator, Orangutan Foundation UK

Your questions about Lamandau and its orangutans

Many thanks for your excellent questions and comments. Here’s the answers to some of your questions.

Sheryl you asked about illegal burning – most of the illegal burning occurs at the southwestern side of Lamandau where it is prone to fires (vandals tend to set fires as to encourage new grass to flourish, and thus attract deer). Fire-fighting is one of our more important operations in Lamandau that we take seriously, and all our guardposts are equipped with fire-fighting equipment.

Maina you asked how many orangutans are in Lamandau. Since 1998, 160 orangutans have been released in Lamandau Wildlife Reserve. As well, it is estimated there are a few hundred wild orangutans found in the Reserve.

Hope to post some photos from Stephen’s farewell party tomorrow.



Forest regeneration at Pondok Ambung – a year after the fires.

About a year ago, almost seven hectares of forest behind the Pondok Ambung Research Station was burnt to the ground (see post Fires in Tanjung Puting National Park). This was attributed to human carelessness (not the Pondok Ambung staff, we should note!), and favourable dry conditions. A burnt forest patch however, when left alone, regenerates and a vegetation survey was conducted in February 2009, at the burnt area, to see what had indeed grown back.

Field manager for Pondok Ambung, Mr. Devis, noted that the dominant plant types in the recovering burnt area are the ferns, or more specificially the Gleichenia linearis (tree fern) and Lycopodium cernuum (club moss).

Lycopodium cernuum (club moss)

Lycopodium cernuum (club moss)

The grasses and sedges are also growing back (Digitaria ischaemum, Sorghum halepense, Pennistrum purpureu, Eleocharis parvula, Cyperus kyllingia, Cyperus distans and Cyperus paniceus), along with the shrubs (Melastoma malabathricum, Ochthocharis borneensis, Achasma coccineum Val. Blumea balsamifera).

The trees as well are making a comeback (Schima wallichii korth, Garcinia sp, Rhodamina cinerea, Eugenia sp, etc.). The evergreen tree (Schima wallichii korth) dominates the rest of the tree types.

Schima wallichii korth

Schima wallichii korth is the dominant tree species

It’s not just good news for vegetation – the newly growing area is also attracting deer who favour open habitats for grazing.

Deer hoof mark

Deer track

We will continue to monitor the changes of this recovering burnt area. With each new seedling pushing its way through the soil, one is reminded that this damaged patch of forest, as with the other fire-damaged forests elsewhere in Borneo, could come back to life, if it is left alone.

Forest just after the fire

The forest just after the fire.

One year later the forest is recovering.

Forest recovery one year on. All photos by Devis Rachmawan.

Thank you very much Nicole D and Tal B for your recent donations. We are currently trying to raise $250-300 to buy two digital cameras (see post Meet our new vet for the orangutans of Lamandau Wildlife Reserve).

Thank you,

June Rubis