Thank you to everyone who has donated to our Restore Rainforest Appeal - with your support, we have not only reached, but also exceeded our initial target of £25,000! As a result, thousands of tree seedlings have now been planted on over 200 hectares of damaged orangutan habitat in North Sumatra. We have also been training local people in the Besitang region to manage organic tree nurseries, growing indigenous seedlings to plant in damaged areas of land within the Gunung Leuser National Park.
We’re already seeing some really exciting results - our team has reported evidence of lots of wildlife starting to return to the restored areas of forest – not just orangutans but also siamangs, white-handed gibbons, leopard cats and many endangered and critically endangered bird species too. This is what your support can achieve.
There was a small setback earlier this year when a herd of wild elephants passed through the replanting site on their migration route - but planting was able to continue once the elephants had moved on. And the silver lining is that elephant dung makes an excellent natural fertiliser for the newly planted seedlings!
Thanks to our education and outreach programme, the communities living on the edge of these critical forests now have a deeper understanding of the ecological services that rainforests provide, and the ways that these benefit millions of people every day. This is the first step to fostering conservation action - and indeed the local people have sprung into action to save their forests, embracing the restoration work and pledging to protect the park from further encroachment.
But there is still much work to be done. Sumatran orangutans are still critically endangered and we must do all that we can to save the forests in which they live.
With the Besitang restoration site up and running so successfully, we are now planning to expand our work to a new part of the Leuser forests - Ketambe in the Aceh province of Sumatra, with work beginning in 2011.
So thank you once again for helping us reach our 2010 Restore Rainforest Appeal target. Please continue to support this vital work - 2011 is the International Year of Forests, and we look forward to bringing you more news of the fantastic work being done in Sumatra over the coming year.
Please visit www.orangutans-sos.org/seethedifference to watch a short film about our work and to help us plant even more trees!
Helen and the SOS Team