International Collaboration Targets Climate-Smart Reforestation In East Borneo
Borneo is one of the world’s great bastions of biodiversity. Savvy scientists, looking to increase the success of reforestation efforts have selected a number of local tree species that seem to possess properties that would allow them to withstand the effects of climate change over the next 30 years.
In a study done by scientists at the IUCN entitled Reforesting for the Climate of Tomorrow, researchers looked at over 250 indigenous tree species found within Kutai National Park in Borneo. The blue ribbon trees were judged on their ability to resist fire and drought, phenomenon which have “devastated” Kutai National Park in recent years.
“This study provides valuable practical guidance as to how we can make a unique Bornean rainforest more climate-resilient,” said Sandeep Sengupta, IUCN’s Climate Change Coordinator.
In a delightful juxtaposition, 7 tree species singled out for climate-resilience, also happened to be food and shelter sources for the at-risk East-Bornean orangutan. Also included in the study is a topical recommendation for where groupings of each native sapling should be planted in order to maximize security for the forest and its wildlife.
“Kutai National Park was once one of the most important lowland rainforest sites in Borneo, and its degradation is a major loss not only for Indonesia but for the world,” said study co-author Douglas Sheil. “But there is a glimmer of hope in that populations of threatened East Bornean orangutans persist there and work continues to restore forest cover in the park.”
Within Indonesia, support for the study is widespread, as reforestation efforts are being carried out by local organizations and government, with backing from international collaborators such as the Indianapolis Zoological Society who funded the study, and the IUCN.
Nur Patria Kurniawan, Head of Kutai Park, stated "Kutai National Park faces many challenges in managing its area. Forest degradation is the biggest and the most pressing one. We give our utmost regard for all supporting organizations who made the Kutai National Park ecosystem restoration publication possible. The results will guide our ecosystem restoration activities, and will be implemented not only in Kutai National Park, but also in tropical forests outside the KNP.”