Sabangau Research Unit

Long-term research activities in the Sabangau peat swamp include work to monitor orangutan population, behaviour, diet and health, plus habitat quality and orangutan food availability. This work is important for understanding both how orangutans survive in logged and regenerating peat swamps which is one of their most important habitats.

Well-targeted, scientifically-sound, long-term ecological monitoring is now widely recognised as an essential complement to direct conservation activities. This provides essential information for conservation managers and strengthens conservation initiatives through:

1. assessing the impacts of human threats on forest condition and target conservation   species;

2. assessing the effectiveness of conservation management initiatives in achieving their stated   conservation aims, enabling more efficient resource targeting;

3. facilitating conservation management initiative adaptation to maximize conservation success and     minimize associated costs; and

4. enabling conservationists to provide objective evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of their     conservation initiatives to their funders and important local conservation stakeholders.

Despite these clear benefits, ecological monitoring is frequently neglected by conservation practitioners, owing to either a lack of appreciation of its value, inadequate expertise and/or insufficient funds. An ecological monitoring programme in Sabangau has already been designed and implemented, which will help strengthen conservation by providing constructive feedback for conservation managers. This programme enables monitoring of the impacts of human activities on ape habitat and numbers of orangutans in the Sabangau research site, providing essential feedback on the effectiveness of management in maintaining and enhancing the area’s ape populations.

Project Leader: Simon Husson