Sabangau Peat Swamp Restoration

The 600,000 ha Sabangau Forest in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, is the largest non-fragmented area of lowland rainforest remaining in Borneo and is of major conservation importance for its high biodiversity; as a globally-significant carbon store; and for its natural resource functions that benefit the surrounding communities. Sabangau supports the largest population of the Bornean orangutan with 6,900 individuals estimated to live here. Sabangau is considered one of the last strongholds for the Bornean orangutan and one of the top priority sites for its conservation.

In order to maintain Sabangau’s forest cover and peat-land resource, and hence its high 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.

A Patrol Unit was established in 2002 to patrol and protect the Sabangau peat swamp forest. This unit contains seven permanent members from the local town and has the full support of local leaders and law enforcement agencies. The Patrol Unit dams illegally dug logging canals and protect the area against illegal activities including cutting of trees, starting of fires, hunting fruit bats and other protected wildlife and breaking dams.

The local community has for a long time depended on the forest as part of their source of income, which has important cultural significance. The most important consideration for the utilisation of natural resources is to achieve a sustainable balance between exploitation and preventing ecosystem damage, so the Patrol Unit works towards the mission of protectingPeat for Forest and Forest for People. Extensive numbers of seedlings are grown in a nursery to regenerate the peat-swamp forest in degraded areas.

Project Leader: Simon Husson