Where we have worked
OuTrop have completed two sets of biodiversity surveys over the last year in the Katingan peat swamps, just west of Sabangau. These swamps in Katingan cover an area of some 200,000ha and are currently classified as “Production Forest”. Our surveys confirmed that this area is important for flora and fauna conservation, with many threatened species present, in particular large populations os both orangutans and gibbons. Hope that protection may be achieved comes in the form of a Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) project, run by PT. Starling Asia. While the primary aim of REDD+ projects is to reduce carbon emissions and, in doing so, make profit by selling carbon credits on international markets, there is also a very clear potential for positive biodiversity impacts. In particular, REDD+ has potential to help make forests worth more alive than cut down and to generate sustainable funding streams for forest protection. Because peat-swamp forests, such as Katingan and Sabangau, contain so much carbon, they are prime targets for REDD+ projects.
Another key remit of REDD+ projects is to demonstrate that they bring about additional biodiversity benefits, as compared to the ‘without-project’ or ‘business-as-usual’ scenario. This is achieved through adherence to the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance Standards, acceptance to which hinges upon satisfying a number of biodiversity criteria. Achieving “Gold” standard involves demonstrating exceptional biodiversity benefits, such as protecting populations of endangered species like the orang-utan. With our expertise in peat-swamp forest biodiversity, OuTrop will make an important contribution towards confirming these benefits exist and supporting REDD+ in achieving its massive potential for tropical peat-swamp forest protection.
Mungku Baru Ulin Forest
Rapid faunal biodiversity surveys and HCV assessments, including orangutan and gibbon population surveys, were also performed in the Mungku Baru Ulin Forest, in partnership with International Animal Rescue. Mungku Baru is notable as one of the few remaining forests that still contain large amounts of ulin, the Borneo ironwood (Eusideroxylon zwageri); owing to previous conflicts between logging companies and local superstitions, this forest has never been logged. Our surveys confirmed high abundance of both orangutans and gibbons in the area, in addition to a large number of mammal and bird species, including many HCV species. OuTrop continue to support International Animal Rescue in attempting to protect the area.
Preliminary biodiversity assessments were conducted in the unprotected Bawan Forest in summer 2010, in order to address concern among villagers regarding destructive human activities and the potential loss of the forest, plus the cultural and economic benefits it brings. This resulted in the villagers contacting CIMTROP/OuTrop in 2010 and requesting our assistance to help ensure the continued protection of the forest and the ecosystem services it provides through exploring alternative 'forest-friendly' activities, such as long-term research and eco-tourism. Following meetings with Bawan Village officials and at their invitation, we established a small research camp and forest transects at the site, and conducted a preliminary biodiversity assessment of the area. This assessment indicated that Bawan Forest is likely home to a wide array of biodiversity, including a potentially very high density of gibbons, although further study is needed to assess the true conservation potential of the area, the threats faced and the optimum strategies for mitigating these threats in both the short and long term. We aim to establish a permanent research presence in the area, in order to address these questions and provide the consistent support necessary to help the local people to protect the forest.