OC: Borneo is Burning…AGAIN

The Orangutan Conservancy recently partnered with The Borneo Nature Foundation to rebuild critical orangutan research infrastructure in Sebangau National Forest. Today, we receive an update from the Development Manager at BNF, Suzanne Turnbock on the fires that are currently threatening one of the largest wild populations of wild orangutans.

Wildfires are not a foreign threat in Indonesia, many remember 2015 as the worst bout of fires that the country has ever seen…

The tropical peat-swamp forests of southern
Borneo form one of the largest expanses of
tropical rainforest in Asia, with the largest
known populations of the Critically Endangered
orangutan amongst a wealth of biodiversity. In
2015 these forests were severely threatened as
massive fires swept through the region, driven by
an extended drought caused by global climate
conditions. These fires destroyed over two million
hectares of forest, including the habitat of over
3,000 orangutans, and released huge amounts of
carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and choking
gasses implicated in the deaths of over 100,000
people. Nowhere was this more frightening than
in the Sebangau National Park, home to the
largest protected orangutan population in the
world.

Suzanne Turnock, BNF
Forest fire on edge of Sebangau River (Photo: Markurius Sera & BNF)

In 2019 these fires are now returning and already
huge plumes of smoke can be seen in degraded
peatlands in Central Kalimantan. With drought
conditions well underway it may only be a matter
of time before the fires enter the primary rainforest
and cause huge damage to the environment and
wildlife.

Suzanne Turnock, BNF
Photo: Markurius Sera & BNF

The Borneo Nature Foundation (BNF) is tackling
these fires head-on. In response to the destructive
2015 fires we created two new community
firefighting teams, known locally as MPA units
(Masyarakat Peduli Api – ‘Citizens Concerned
about Fire’). We have helped them establish
headquarters and provided equipment, transport
and training to these committed people from
villages bordering the Sebangau National Park.
We have stepped up our support of the flagship
CIMTROP TSA which has been active through
five major fire events over the past 18 years; and
are connecting all of these community teams
through the Indonesian Disaster Agency. These
teams are truly on the frontline fighting to save
the forest and stop peatland fires that are a major
driver of climate change.

Suzanne Turnock, BNF
Hendri from CIMTROP Patrol Team and BNF Senior Project Coordinator 2019 (Photo: Edwin Shri Bimo &BNF)

Now that Borneo is in the grip of another drought
we are mobilising these teams once again. They
need fuel, food and daily income for their families,
so they are always ready to extinguish any fire
that arises, and they need the latest technology,
best equipment and proper safety gear so they
can quickly locate, map and tackle new fires.
Please help us support these teams so they can
stay mobilised for as long as it takes to put the
fires out.

Suzanne Turnock, BNF
Photo: Markurius Sera & BNF

Fire STATS

Graphic Provided By: Borneo Nature Foundation
(Resources: Global Forest Watch Fires & IQAir AirVisual)

Join the Fight!

BNF has launched a new campaign to help raise funds for emergency firefighting resources. Watch the video below to learn more about BNF and the current fire threats they face!

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