ORANG UTAN HABITAT RESTORATION
IN ULU SEGAMA
The ultimate goal of this project is to contribute towards the restoration of critical orang utan habitats in Sabah. This project is a key component of pilot efforts within the 240,000 hectare Ulu Segama Malua (USM) region. USM contains the largest unfragmented population of the Bornean orang utan subspecies Pongo pygmaeus morio in Sabah. Since logging was banned in USM in 2006, efforts are ongoing to implement a new Forest Management Plan, incorporating conservation and sustainable forest management principles. This 423 hectare forest restoration project is expected to help and inform larger restoration work within USM via lessons learned throughout the three years of implementation.
LEAP has partnered with Sabah Forestry Department for this project with the goal of leveraging partnerships (local and international) that will increase shared ownership and responsibility in addressing the issue of orang utan conservation and sustainable forest management in USM and in Sabah. The support received from Arcus Foundation for this pilot project was very strategic in beginning to build an international support base for USM, with the aim of avoiding the conversion of these severely degraded forests into palm oil agriculture and restoring and preserving this critical orang utan habitat for the long term. Currently, Sabah is pursuing larger scale restoration projects in the USM region, including potential payment for ecosystem services projects (carbon sequestration, biodiversity credits), with facilitation from LEAP.
The specific objective of this 3-year project is to restore 300 hectares of forest reserve land that was previously degraded by illegal cultivation of agricultural crops (mainly oil palm) to its historic mixed species forest. With the receipt of additional funding in 2008, as discussed below, the original objective has been increased to the restoration of 423 hectares of forest reserve land. The forest restoration is focused on the planting of mixed native tree species with the ultimate aim of enhancing wildlife habitat and food sources, especially for the orang utan. The restoration area is strategically linked to critical orang utan habitats within the Ulu Segama Forest Reserve. The planted seedlings will be tended and their survival and vigor assessed throughout the term of the project.