|Harapan Rainforest is an extraordinary place. Straddling the border of Jambi and South Sumatra provinces, it represents some of Sumatra ‘s last remaining lowland forest. Harapan Rainforest, named after the Indonesian word for ‘hope’, is home to the majestic Sumatran tiger, on the brink of extinction, to at least 235 bird species, and to a diverse array of plant and animal life.|
Sumatra ‘s lowland forest is one of the most important wildlife habitats in the world, rivalling the Brazilian Amazon in its diversity. It is also one of the most threatened. Logging and the expansion of agriculture, particularly timber and oil palm plantations, are closing in on all sides. Within just a few years, this forest and its irreplacable wildlife could be gone forever. The indigenous people of the area, including families who follow a nomadic existence deep in the forest’s interior, risk losing their way of life.
The Harapan Rainforest initiative is Indonesia’s first official forest for ‘ecosystem restoration’. A unique, global partnership led by Burung Indonesia, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB, UK) and BirdLife International aims to create a bright future for the forest, its wildlife and people by linking local communities, national conservation organisations and government to protect, restore and sustain this vital area.
Forest restoration : good economic sense
The Stern Review, a recently published major report by the UK Government on the economic consequences of climate change, gives a stark warning that, unless we act now, climate change will have serious social, economic and environmental consequences. The report also concludes that “the benefits of strong, early action considerably outweigh the costs” and that “curbing deforestation is a highly cost-effective way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions”.
Indonesia’s forests are extremely important for regulating our climate, and also for conserving the world’s biodiversity and providing vital services for local communities. Yet they are disappearing at an alarming rate. Without these forests, the world would be a much poorer and more dangerous place for all of us. Everyone interested in the country-individuals, companies, non-government organisations and governments have a role to play in protecting and restoring these forests.
Sumatra’s amazing wildlife
The rainforests of Sumatra are among the most wildlife-rich on earth. Indonesia covers just 1 percent of the world’s land area, but supports one sixth of the world’s birds, many found nowhere else. More than 600 bird species live in Sumatra ‘s forests, more than two-thirds of them in lowland rainforest. Rainforest birds include the rhinoceros hornbill, rufous-collared kingfisher, red-naped trogon and banded pitta, birds as bright as jewels. Malayan night herons, white-winged ducks and rare storks feed in the rivers flowing through the rainforest and nest near the riverside.
The forests harbour an astonishing richness of mammals, including Sumatran tigers, Asian elephants, Malayan tapirs and clouded leopards. Harapan Rainforest, where Burung Indonesia, the RSPB, and BirdLife International have created Indonesia’s first forest for ‘ecosystem restoration’, is home to 15-20 endangered Sumatran tigers. Only 100-300 remain in the wild and their numbers are dwindling. Preliminary surveys revealed seven cat species and five primates, 33 amphibian and reptile species and at least 235 bird species -although further surveys are certain to reveal many more. In an area roughly two thirds the size of Greater London are as many bird species as breed in the whole of the UK.
Our financial challenge
This initiative has already received political, practical and financial support from a diverse range of individuals and agencies around the world. We welcome your ideas and commitment to help us to guarantee the future of the Harapan Rainforest, its people and wildlife, Forest restoration and promotion of sustainable hum-an development go hand-in-hand with successful management of the concession. Additional funding is also needed to support these act-ivities.
The Harapan Rainforest initiative has already secured support worth several million US dollars from within the BirdLife International Partnership – RSPB, Burung Indonesia, the BirdLife Secretariat and BirdLife partners in Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. The Global Conservation Fund of Conservation International, the Nando Peretti Foundation, the British Birdwatching Fair and the European Union have also provided funds.
We are continuing to seek funds from a wide range of sources, including government agencies, multilateral bodies, corporations, private trusts and foundations, and individuals. Yayasan Konservasi Ekosistem Indonesia is a registered Indonesian charity, Burung Indonesia is a registered Indonesian membership organization, RSPB is a registered UK charity and BirdLife International headquarters is also registered as a UK charity. Through the international network of Birdlife partners we can collect donations in more than 100 countries. Any donations we receive are tax deductible under the United States Internal Revenue Service code 501(c) 3.