Our Approach - SOS – Sumatran Orangutan Society
A female Sumatran orangutan sits in a newly made day nest as her baby plays in the background

Our Approach

Read our Conservation Greenprint - our strategy to 2030

At SOS, our mission is to protect orangutans, their forests, and their future. We work with local partners in orangutan landscapes towards our vision of wild orangutans thriving in resilient forests. We support the long-term conservation of these globally important rainforests through progressive, community-based conservation programmes, which address and overcome local pressures on orangutans by engaging forest-edge communities in grassroots conservation action.

SOS works at a landscape scale but on a local level. Our high-level strategy is underpinned by practical measures, implemented through our local partners, that make a real difference to orangutans, forests, and people. We develop and fund effective conservation programmes and partnerships, supporting immediate boots-on-the-ground protection, building the capacity of our partner organisations, and setting the wheels in motion for long-term conservation solutions.

Our Goals

Our Approach


Standing forests kept resilient and stable, viable wild orangutan populations sustained.

Our Approach


Isolation and fragmentation of orangutan populations reversed.

Our Approach


Degraded forest ecosystems in orangutan landscapes recovered and rewilded.


We support a range of interventions to enhance, rehabilitate and re-establish orangutan habitat. We follow a rewilding philosophy, focused on creating a self-sustaining natural system integrated with the human communities around and within it. Rather than striving to recreate historical conditions or exclude human presence, we look to the future to support nature and people in generating functional, sustainable ecosystems that provide services for people and biodiversity, including a long-term home for orangutans.

Our Strategy

To achieve these ambitious goals, our conservation strategy focuses on finding local solutions to global challenges. We collaborate with forest-edge communities to secure the long-term future of orangutans through actions that enable both to flourish. 

Root Causes

Understanding the specific drivers and patterns of threats to orangutans enables us to plan effectively and respond rapidly to critical situations.

To protect wild orangutans we need to address drivers of threats at every scale. We must understand where forests need protection, and why. Gathering and analysing all the relevant data enables us to optimise our conservation investments. Different situations need different approaches – be it a physical barrier caused by a road or expanding smallholder agriculture – but ultimately the solution is found in sustainable development based on coexistence between orangutans and people, and building the resilience of ecosystems. 

Root Causes: Case Study

Seeds of Sustainable Development

Enabling and supporting local communities to pursue development without deforestation. 

The wellbeing and prosperity of the people of Sumatra are inextricably linked to the fate of the forests – we cannot support one at the expense of the other. Working through our indispensable frontline partners, and together with local communities in priority landscapes, we develop conservation action plans which break the link between development and habitat degradation. We support local people to pursue secure, forest-friendly livelihoods, using innovative approaches that make the forests more valuable to them standing than felled. Our community-based interventions build a network of ‘rainforest guardians’ who help to reduce pressure on the forest and to protect orangutans and other wildlife. Together we can build resilience for orangutans, ecosystems, communities and climate through conservation solutions that benefit both people and wildlife.

Seeds of Sustainable Development: Case Study

Space to Flourish

Engaging all stakeholders to secure the future of forest landscapes.

For orangutans to thrive in the wild we must secure and expand the areas where they can live. Part of their habitat lies outside protected areas and is subject to various different designations and land uses. We and our expert local colleagues work with a range of stakeholders – including indigenous and local communities, private companies and governmental institutions – who manage, interact with or have tenure rights in forests. Our engagement strategies recognise the different roles, perceptions and values of each stakeholder, and the unique opportunities they bring for maintaining and protecting orangutan habitat. We complement this by developing and applying sustainable finance models to support essential conservation activities.

Space To Flourish: Case Study

Evolving Conservation

Forming positive partnerships to share our skills and empower conservation allies

Acting as an enabler, facilitator and connector, we provide conservation allies with the tools to deliver game-changing programmes. Our actions empower local stakeholders, supporting them with new skills, knowledge and networks to enhance their stewardship of orangutan landscapes. Together with our vital in-country partners, we work with the following stakeholder groups:

  • Frontline NGOs 

Through long-term, committed relationships, we continuously strengthen the capacities and leadership of our local, on-the-ground partners to manage and protect orangutan habitat.

  • Private Sector 

We work with private sector partners to integrate orangutan-friendly principles and approaches into all aspects of the value chain. This ranges from small-scale entrepreneurs adopting green business models to large-scale concession holders creating forest corridors.

  • Local Communities

We support village and community institutions to ensure that their members can effectively use  local mechanisms (such as village development plans) to achieve the best outcomes for sustainable development and orangutan conservation.

  • The International Community

We communicate and collaborate with international NGOs and other conservation bodies to share our knowledge and experience, and to help steer global strategy in the most practical and effective directions. 

  • National, Regional And Local Government

We work with the Indonesian authorities at all levels to support them in setting and achieving the country’s ambitious objectives for nature conservation and sustainable development, including the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Evolving Conservation: Case Study

An adult sumatran orangutan

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