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Project information

Orangutan Tropical Peatland Trust: Saving Primates

Our primate projects have been running since 2003 (orang-utans), 2005 (gibbons) and 2009 (red langurs). Our data on these primates are one of the longest in the world and has provided invaluable insights on the ecology of these animals to help us understand them more, thus to protect them better.

November 2011 - November 2013

Charity information: The Orangutan Tropical Peatland Trust

The Orangutan Tropical Peatland Trust logo
  • Need


    All 3 primate species are threatened and facing an uncertain future in the wild. We work to understand the complex relationship between the primates and the forest including feeding ecology and rang size. To protected and conserve these charismatic primates for the future we must understand their behaviour and ecology and how they use the forest. We must also understand how human activities are impacting on the forest and how best to prevent this. We need £150,000 per year to fund this work.


    We monitor the distribution, population status, behaviour and ecology of the forest's flagship ape and primate species, carry out biodiversity and forestry research, and work with local partners to implement conservation solutions. We actively work to combat the human actions which are threatening the forest e.g. supporting the local patrol team, the local fire fighting team and building dams to block canals which are draining the peat forest. We provide training and advice to Indonesian groups.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Monitor the populations of all 3 primates as well as studying the behavioural ecology.


    » Survey the main study site and 7 different remote locations for long-term and continuous population monitoring yearly.
    » Carry out year-round behaviour monitoring of the primates by following the wild primates daily.

    What success will look like

    Success will be demonstrating that the populations of the primates are stable or increasing and providing data that can inform conservation management plans for Sabangau.

    Aim 2

    Protect the habitat by funding the Patrol Team and the Fire-fighting Teams


    » Raise funds to support the salaries, equipment, and training for the local Patrol Team and support them in their awareness campaigns.
    » Raise funds to support the salaries, equipment, and training for the local Fire-fighting and support them in their awareness campaigns.

    What success will look like

    Success will be preventing fires and tackling fires quickly. By reducing and preventing illegal logging and resource extraction and working with local people.

    Aim 3

    Build dams to block illegal logging timber extraction routes (canals) which drain the peat


    » Construct hundreds of dams to restore the water table in the forest and prevent the peat drying out which leads to more fires and tree-falls.
    » Riase awareness among local communities about the importance of keeping the peat wet and intact to maintain healthy rivers and prevent fires.

    What success will look like

    Success will be constructing at least 400 dams each year and monitoring them for effectiveness and carrying out repairs as needed.

    Aim 4

    Grow and plant native tree species for forest regeneration and restoration using native species


    » Grow native peat forest trees in the nursery and carry out a systematic re-planting process in the degraded areas of the forest.
    » Combine forest species which are important for biodiversity with those important for local people to create a fire-break at the forest edge.

    What success will look like

    Success will be growing and planting at least 1000 saplings/year and monitoring the health and survivability of these trees into the future.

    Aim 5

    Raise money to support the on-going work of the project through providing employment, training etc


    » Raise funds to pay Indonesian salaries, maintain base camp, pay for training courses and provide medical care to all staff. Logistics are crucial.

    What success will look like

    Success will be maintaining the camp and expending our core Indonesian research team by providing more employment, training and job security.

  • Impact


    • Measuring trends in flagship primate density & forest structure
    • Identifying and monitoring biological indicators to ensure targeted responses to conservation problems
    • Establishing a feedback system to inform protected-area management agencies of successes and failures
    • Establishing positive management impacts and critical regions
    • Providing training to Indonesian researchers and conservationists
    • Raising awareness of the wild populations of these primates


    We have been working in this region since 1999 and have extensive experince in this area and with conservation research. We work with 11 local NGO's and government departments and are sponsored by the Indonesian NGO Centre for International Cooperation in Sustainable Management of Tropical Peatlands (CIMTROP).


    Reporting will be via the website and blog and through the quarterly newsletter and annual report.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £135,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £40,000 Salaries Indonesian field assistants salaries
      £16,000 Training Workshop, Training, Reporting & Translations
      £40,000 Subsistence and logistics Food, fuel and maintaining base camp
      £9,000 Research Equipment Radios, GPS units, field clothes etc
      £10,000 Patrol Team and Dams Equipment, salaries, training, awareness
      £10,000 Fire fighting team Equipment, salaries, training, awareness
      £10,000 Nursery Materials, maintanenance and monitoring

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    US Fish and Wildlife Great Ape Fund £34,000 Guaranteed
    AAZA Ape Tag £15,000 Guaranteed
    Australian Orangutan Project £30,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    The Sabangau Forest is in southern Borneo, near Palangka Raya, in the Indonesian province of Central Kalimantan. Centred on the blackwater Sabangau River. The ecosystem covers an area of approximately 9,000 km2 of tropical peatland and most (6,300 km2) remains forested. Sabangau forms part of a great swathe of tropical peatlands that cover almost the entire lowland river plains of southern Borneo. It is the largest area of lowland rainforest remaining in Borneo.


    We work with local people and local and international conservation groups to maintain the forest, work to restore the forest and to protect the biodiversity within it. We work with our local sponsors to provide employment and help raise awareness both in Indonesia and abroad. We remain dedicated to helping the people of Central Kalimantan protect their natural heritage and would like to thank all our supporters on their behalf.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    The Orangutan Tropical Peatland Trust supports the Orangutan Tropical Peatland Project (OuTrop) which was established in 1999 and works to protect one of the most important areas of tropical rainforest in Borneo. In partnership with CIMTROP, we bridge the gap between academic research and practical conservation problems, with a focus on primate, felid, biodiversity monitoring and forestry research, and development of conservation solutions for the Sabangau forest.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Simon Husson

    Founder and Director of Conservation and Biodiversity Research. Simon is heavily involved with orangutan distribution and factors affecting density.

    Dr Helen Morrogh-Bernard

    Founder and Director of Orangutan Research. Helen established the orangutan behaviour research project in the Sabangau in 2003.

    Dr Susan Cheyne

    Director of Gibbon and Felid Research. Susan initiated the Gibbon Behaviour, Feeding Ecology and Socioecology Project and the Sabangau Felid Project.

    Laura D'Arcy

    Director of Forestry Research. Laura is responsible for research on forest structure and ecology.

The Sabangau Forest

The Sabangau Forest