Restoring ecosystems - SOS – Sumatran Orangutan Society
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Gita Defoe

Restoring ecosystems

Restoring Ecosystems

Thousands of hectares of orangutan habitat have been destroyed and replaced with farmland and other developments.

Together with our partners in Sumatra, we are reclaiming and restoring this land for wildlife.

Paul Hilton

Paul Hilton

The ecosystem restoration programme is operated by our partners, the Orangutan Information Centre, with a team of local staff and farmers. The restoration sites are located within the Leuser Ecosystem, a protected area, and are repairing damage to the forest caused by illegal activities – primarily the clearing of forest for oil palm plantations.


As well as restoring lost habitat and reinforcing national park boundaries, these projects engage local people in grassroots conservation action. Strong roots in the community are absolutely essential for this work to succeed, and the groups we work with have become the guardians of the forests, protecting the ecosystem from future threats.

Project Spotlight:
Besitang village, North Sumatra

This project is restoring 500 hectares of orangutan habitat that has been destroyed and replaced by illegal oil palm plantations within the Leuser Ecosystem.
Layton Thompson

Layton Thompson

Tearing down forests for farmland destroys all manner of natural balances. When the rainforest was replaced with an oil palm plantation next to the village of Besitang, the rivers and wells dried up, and the villagers’ crops failed. The detrimental effects of deforestation were clear to the community, and they welcomed the opportunity to reclaim and restore the forest.

The local community are very proud of the success of this project, and have formed a group called ‘Protectors of Leuser’ to continue to manage the restoration and protection of this corner of the national park.

Restoring ecosystems

“When the forest was replaced with oil palms, the water dried up for miles around. Since embarking on the restoration of the ecosystem, our rivers have returned, and we can once again hear bird song. We are committed to protect Leuser from any further damage.”

- Pak Baron, Protectors of Leuser

We’re seeing some really exciting results – our team has reported evidence of lots of wildlife starting to return to site – not just orangutans but also Sumatran elephants, sunbears, siamangs, white-handed gibbons, leopard cats and many endangered and critically endangered bird species too.

We have installed several camera traps at the restoration sites to monitor the species which are returning.  As you can see, the new forest is already popular with a wide range of wildlife!

Elephants on camera trap
Restoring ecosystems
Restoring ecosystems
Restoring ecosystems
Restoring ecosystems
Restoring ecosystems



6,000 oil palms have been removed from within the protected forests


1.5 million tree seedlings have been planted

Restoring ecosystems
Restoring ecosystems
Before After
Drag Me

This once-barren landscape is now a thriving young forest, buzzing with life: but there is still much work to be done. Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered and we must do all that we can to save their forest home.

An adult sumatran orangutan

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