A new project in Borneo is aiming to buy palm oil plantations and reforest them with near-natural rainforest. In this way fragmented areas of rainforest can be joined up again, with the goal of linking up key forest areas to minimise the threat of extinction of isolated wildlife populations such as the hairy-nosed otter, Borneo-orang-utan, Sunda clouded leopard, Borneo-elephant and Borneo-banteng, says the Rhino and Forest Fund (RFF).
“I am particularly interested in the repopulation with wildlife of those areas that have hardly any species left,” commented Dr Petra Kretzschmar, ecologist at the Leibniz-IZW and board member of RFF. “So far, the main focus has been on the loss of biodiversity, but we want to find out how long it takes for palm oil plantations with very little species to return to their original biodiversity after re-naturation. Scientific monitoring of the entire transformation process is important in order to provide recommendations for a future sustainable transformation of agricultural land into near-natural rainforest.”
Germany-based RFF has been active in Borneo since 2010, in collaboration with the Sabah Forestry Department. With the support of the Sabah Wildlife Departments, it has already transformed over 2,000 ha of endangered forest areas back into strictly protected habitats.