Our Principles - SOS – Sumatran Orangutan Society

Our Principles

Our values and approaches are the foundations of the innovative conservation model that we are building.
Our Principles

"Be More Orangutan"

To protect the orangutan, we harness the characteristics that our flagship animal has evolved to live in harmony with its rainforest home, to help us adapt and succeed in the dynamic conservation ecosystem.


Effective strategies need to be based on sound evidence. Our continuous analysis of the drivers of threats, and the opportunities for forest protection, allow us to prioritise and focus on geographies where action is most needed and the approaches that will have the greatest impact. Our commitment to analysis helps us invest our resources wisely, where the need is greatest, to achieve the best outcomes for orangutans.

  • We use a unique and comprehensive analytical framework to develop programmes by prioritising landscapes and interventions.
  • We track and assess key indicators to ensure that our approaches are working.
  • We obtain new information and evidence through investing in research.
  • We continuously gather and analyse data in an ongoing process of adaptive management.


Our core strength comes from building long-term, trustful and genuine partnerships with frontline organisations and local communities. At the heart of this is our 3 Cs approach:

  • Community-powered: We put the people who live in and around Sumatra’s forests at the heart of our work.
  • Collaboration: We partner with (in)credible local organisations, support them technically and financially, and bring them together to amplify their voices. We co-create robust, locally-driven solutions by involving these partners, forest-edge communities and government institutions.
  • Commitment: We know that maintaining long-term investments in conservation projects reaps huge rewards. By earning trust from communities and gaining a deep understanding of the challenges they face, long-term engagement produces solutions that meet the needs of both communities and conservation.


Achieving tangible and long-lasting conservation results is complex, especially in dynamic landscapes facing multiple challenges. Being a small and nimble organisation gives us many advantages to seek and explore new routes to success.

  • We are quick to embrace new opportunities and implement promising and innovative ideas.
  • We are responsive and problem-solving in relation to emerging threats and opportunities.
  • Our approach is nuanced and locally-driven, never letting scale come at the expense of effectiveness. 


Orangutans are a keystone species, shaping the habitat in ways that benefit their co-inhabitants and the overall biodiversity. Acting as a keystone organisation in the ecosystem of conservation stakeholders in Sumatra, we will enhance the sector as a whole by promoting collaboration, innovation, transformative ambition and an evidence- and impact-led approach.

  • We promote skills and knowledge exchange among our partners and allies.
  • We amplify the voices and expertise of our local partners, recognising their unique insight into conservation challenges and solutions.
  • We provide technical and hands-on support to enhance our partners’ capacities to deliver effective and sustainable interventions.
  • We lead by example, promoting data and information sharing by making our analyses available to partners and stakeholders to support wider decision making.

Decolonising Conservation

We acknowledge that most international conservation models emerged from colonialism and that we must not perpetuate colonial attitudes or support activities that compromise any people’s rights or freedoms. Throughout our work we commit to recognising national sovereignty, correcting historical power imbalances and supporting all communities’ rights to sustainable development and self-determination. Environmental and social injustice are inextricably linked, and we always pursue equality and fairness alongside environmental progress.

An adult sumatran orangutan

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