Sumatra has been suffering from high levels of habitat destruction for the past three decades, through processes such as illegal and commercial logging, conversion of habitat to agricultural and oil palm plantations, mining operations and forest fires. Although there has been a reduction in the amount of mechanised forest exploitation and agricultural encroachment, lowland tropical rainforests have continued to decline.
The loss of habitats such as the lowland rainforest has dire affects on already endangered species such as the Sumatran orang-utan, Sumatran tiger and the resident Asian elephants. There is also an increasing loss of ecosystem services that these lowland rainforests provide to both rural and urban human communities, in terms of prevention of soil erosion, water catchment and prevision of natural resources.
The Frontier Carbon Offset Programme is dedicated to not only offset CO2 produced by our volunteers, but also to use this as an instigator for rehabilitation of natural habitats and the improvement of human livelihoods at a local level. To this end our partners in Sumatra, Indonesia have undertaken to initiate a reforestation project with the aim of increasing available natural habitat, improving ecosystem services, providing the local community with an alternative to converting land to oil palm plantations and offsetting CO2 from air travel.
Initially the project has secured 2 ha of land adjacent to the edge of Gunung Leuser National Park (GLNP) near the village of Bukit Lawang. The National Park itself is almost 8000 km2 in size and is part of a wider national park system called the Tropical Rainforest Heritage site of Sumatra, an area totalling 2.5 million ha. The GLNP is home to a huge diversity of plants and animals including semi wild and wild populations of Sumatran orang-utans (GLNP is one of the last strongholds of this species), Sumatran tigers, almost 200 other species of mammal, 10,000 plant species, and 580 bird species of which 465 are resident and 21 endemic. A lot of the private land around the park is being turned into oil palm plantations and there are rumours of a large hotel being built in the vicinity.
Tree nurseries for the Sumatran reforestation projectIn the initial stages the project will plant 16-22 species of native dipterocarp (family: Dipterocarpaceae) interspersed with pioneer and fruit trees (see the Frontier CO2 Offset Programme: Aims, Objectives and Methodologies Manual for more information on specific tree species). Some non-native species will be planted but only if they satisfy key criteria that will help to improve livelihoods in the local area.
Once the programme has been established, experiments will be conducted on a number of other locally important species, such as alim, cengal, melinjo, mayang, medang and papaya. This is a long term project and will continue to investigate planting densities and possible tree species to include over the next three years. The contribution from those wishing to offset their CO2 will insure that these trees can be planted and that the project will continue to develop as time goes on.