The tropical peat swamp forests of Rimba Raya give home to almost 1,000 species of trees and plants. Forests of this type are among the world’s largest repositories of carbon; when slashed, burned and drained, they become huge sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
Once designated for destruction and conversion into a palm oil plantation, the Rimba Raya forests today are dedicated for the long-term protection and preservation of precious habitat of hundreds of at risk species – most notably, the endangered Bornean Orangutan whose population has declined over 95% in the last century. In order to empower the local population to live in harmony with their forests, the project owners also set up several programs to offer alternatives to illegal logging. A multitude of jobs have been created within the project scope that enable locals to earn a living in forest patrol and forest survey teams, respectively.
Reforestation efforts in the so called “jungle rubber” model have been undertaken in formerly degraded project areas. This allows for sustainable forest use by the communities in a mixed species, natural forest environment with harvest of rubber, fruits, and essential oils.
In a further attempt to strengthen the local communities, the project owner is distributing low maintenance, ceramic water filters and highly fuel-efficient cooking stoves to all households in the project area. By this, water borne and indoor smoke related diseases as well as firewood demand (for boiling off water and cooking) are drastically reduced. Also supported are two medical aid initiatives for local communities.