Thanks to your support, here are some of the things we've achieved this year.
It’s been another busy year for the Human Orangutan Conflict Response Unit (HOCRU) teams. There are now three teams, covering North Sumatra, Aceh and Batang Toru respectively, and they have rescued and relocated 27 orangutans (including two Tapanuli orangutans) in 2019. They also conduct consistent monitoring and community outreach to ensure that their presence has a long-term impact on reducing the incidence of negative interactions between people and orangutans.
Sumatra’s rainforests are vital for orangutans, people and climate. We and our partners work hard to protect and restore them, and 2019 has been no exception. OIC‘s restoration staff have planted 942,000 trees this year, restoring barren ex-plantations and illegally-deforested areas to allow wildlife to return.
Another way of supporting Sumatra’s forests is to prevent them being destroyed in the first place. This year, OIC’s patrol teams have covered 495 km of the Leuser ecosystem, reporting illegal activities like logging and snare-setting to local authorities. This enables them to step up protection for vulnerable areas, and, in turn, informs OIC’s community outreach work with people in villages adjacent to the forest.
This year, another 100 farmers living around the Leuser Ecosystem have been taught how to use sustainable methods to increase their crop yields without expanding farms into the forest. In addition, 50 farmers who rely on gum/resin as a non-timber forest product in Aceh province have been trained in sustainable harvesting of this economically valuable commodity. The Lucy Wisdom School is going from strength to strength, with double the number of children attending in the academic year 2019-20 than 2018-19, and many on the waiting list for 2020-21. Our new partner, Nature for Change, is working with communities in the buffer zone around the Leuser to increase their earnings from the fruit trees they plant, and OIC is employing women from villages near restoration sites to make eco-polybags for tree seedlings by using banana fibres (this replaces the plastic polybags which were used before).
We were delighted when we reached the target amount of £870,000 for our Rainforest Home Appeal in March 2019. Reaching this target was a momentous occasion for us in many ways. It was the most ambitious appeal we’ve ever run, so to have received such wholehearted backing from so many people was crucial for its success. OIC’s restoration team has now started the process of turning this land back into thriving forest – the oil palms are being cut down and they are conducting vegetation surveys in the adjacent forest to ensure the seeds they grow in the new tree nursery are appropriate for the local environment. We are excited to see what 2020 brings for this vital piece of land on the edge of the Leuser Ecosystem.
Closer to home, we’re working with businesses and organisations across Oxford to turn Oxford into a Sustainable Palm Oil City. From restaurants and visitor attractions, to colleges, schools and manufacturers, we’re partnering with Oxford’s food service sector to strip out deforestation from products that contain palm oil. By committing to buy, serve and promote products that contain sustainable palm oil, Oxford businesses can make a big difference. We launched Sustainable Palm Oil City Oxford in September 2019 and already have some amazing businesses on board, so we are looking forward to seeing the campaign pick up pace over the next few months as these early adopters of the process spread the word city-wide.
We are also continuing our outreach with schools in and around Oxfordshire, and we are developing some exciting plans with the Abingdon Science Partnership to get even more young people in our area excited about orangutans, rainforests and conservation.