Sabangau Peat Swamp Restoration
The Sabangau Forest is the largest non-fragmented area of lowland rainforest remaining in Borneo, and supports the largest extant population of the Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus). Prior to formal protected-area status being granted, the area was logged extensively, firstly by controlled legal logging and then by intense illegal logging. Illegal loggers used purpose-built canals to extract the timber, which has resulted in peatland drainage, putting the whole ecosystem at risk from peat degradation and, more immediately, from forest fires.
In order to maintain Sabangau’s forest cover and peatland resource, and hence its rich biodiversity, large orangutan population, natural resource functions and carbon store, there is an urgent requirement to restore the natural hydrological conditions of the ecosystem, prevent further fire events, prevent illegal incursions into the forest and restore deforested areas.
AOP supports the protection and restoration of orangutan habitat in the Sabangau peat swamp forest in Central Kalimantan. This includes the damming of illegal canals and improving capability for fighting of forest fires by supporting, training and equipping fire-fighting teams in local villages. Existing local community forest patrol units will also work to prevent illegal activities in the forest (e.g. fire-starting, logging, breaking dams, etc). Seedlings will be grown to regenerate peat-swamp forest in degraded areas, and studies continued to note survival and growth rate of transplanted seedlings.
The damming technique pictured has been trialed and proven effective