Legally Protect Forests


Over 80% of orangutans live in unprotected forests. This puts them at an even greater risk of extinction since their forest habitat can be converted to plantations, logging concessions, mining and other agriculture as well as be destroyed from encroachment from local people or immigrants. 

The Orangutan Project is working with its partners and other organisations in Indonesia to legally change the land status of high conservation value forest in order to protect wild and introduced populations of ex-captive orangutans. 

An example of this includes forming a limited company; PT Alam Bukit Tigapuluh with Frankfurt Zoological Society and WWF Indonesia in order to lease high conservation value forest in the vital lowlands surrounding  Bukit Tigapuluh National Park in Sumatra. Whilst this is a significantly long-term project, the project itself is exploring community-driven initiatives to create sustainable economic enterprises including jungle-honey, vanilla and an education centre, so that eventually, the project will be economically sustainable.

The Orangutan Project and Frankfurt Zoological Society also formed a joint Yayasan (foundation) in Indonesia called Yayasan Konservasi Ekosistem Hutan Sumatera (KEHUS). KEHUS manages an area of 22,000 ha on the eastern boundaries of the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park that has recently been given the status of ‘Kawasan Hutan Dengan Tujuan Khusus’ or ‘KHDTK’ meaning ‘Forest Area with Special Meaning.’ The purpose of this special forest area is to continue its use as an ‘orangutan sanctuary’ where orphaned orangutans participate in a rehabilitation program in order to prepare them for permanent release into the forest. 

We also work closely with Forest Nature and Environment Aceh to protect the critical Leuser ecosystem on the island of Sumatra- the last stronghold of the Critically Endangered Sumatran orangutan.  Despite its special legal status as a National Strategic Area for its Environmental Protection Function, the Leuser Ecosystem is under severe threat from illegal oil palm and other plantations, logging, encroachment, mining and fires - all of which exacerbate the poaching pressure on critically endangered species. Funding provided by The Orangutan Project is used to:

  • Empower communities to politically and legally engage on the spatial plan
  • Field mobilisation to protect the Leuser ecosystem and uncover and monitor illegal activities
  • Boost legal capacity including engaging legal allies through existing networks to work with investigators and advocacy team
  • Enhance Communications and Campaign Outreach

The Orangutan Project works with the following partners to legally protect forests and orangutan habitat:

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