Illegal plantations and encroachment are a huge threat for orangutan rainforest habitat, even in protected areas such as the Gunung Leuser National Park in Sumatra. The Orangutan Project supports organisations that have reclaimed illegal plantations and chopped down thousands of oil palm trees, rubber trees and other illegal crops. These areas are then secured and restored.
The Orangutan Project partners and works with many organisations that are restoring orangutan habitat. Indigenous tree seedlings are grown and cared for in nurseries and then planted at restoration sites. Seedlings are monitored and cared for after planting and weeds must be removed to allow the seedlings to grow. When restoring orangutan habitat areas, it is important to plant a range of fruit trees that the orangutans can utilise in the future.
Forest restoration projects also provide a wonderful opportunity to educate and involve the local community in understanding the need to sustain and protect the forests from illegal encroachment. In addition, local people participate in useful training and capacity-building exercises in support of the restoration work, including tree nursery development, improved planting methodology, planting maintenance, and the financial benefit of receiving a stipend for program-related assistance.
Patrols are vital to protect orangutan habitat and restoration sites. The presence of patrols and guard posts greatly deter illegal activities including encroachment, logging and poaching. The Orangutan Project funds numerous patrol teams and guard posts in Borneo and Sumatra to keep important forest areas safe. Local people are employed in these programs and given extensive training. Providing local employment in these areas encourages and educates people about the importance of protecting the forest ecosystems. It also provides an alternative income for people that may otherwise exploit the forest to make money.
The Orangutan Project funds the securing, restoration and patrol of orangutan habitat through the following projects: