Wild­life corridors

BOS Germany colla­bo­rates with the Rhino and Forest Fund to trans­form former oil palm plan­ta­tions into thri­ving rain­fo­rests in nort­hern Borneo, with the ulti­mate aim of estab­li­shing a wild­life corridor to preserve biodiversity.

A clear path for wild animals

Conser­va­tio­nists convert oil palm plan­ta­tions into rainforest

In part­ner­ship with the Rhino and Forest Fund (RFF), BOS Germany is conver­ting acquired oil palm plan­ta­tions in Sabah into rain­fo­rest. This new rain­fo­rest creates a wild­life corridor connec­ting two nature reserves. 8,000 seed­lings have already been planted on the first 50 hectares.

A wild­life corridor that saves biodiversity

Borneo’s tropical forests are among the oldest on earth. Rare animal species live here that exist nowhere else in the world. But their habitat and thus their future is threa­tened: every year, well over a million hectares of rain­fo­rest are destroyed in Borneo, mainly in order to culti­vate oil palms. The resul­ting mono­cul­tures within a deso­late land­scape reduce biodi­ver­sity to a dramatic extent and are harmful to the envi­ron­ment. Unique wild animals such as the pygmy elephant, the banteng or the oran­gutan are losing their homes and thus their basis for survival. That’s because their habitat is beco­ming more and more frag­mented due to mass defo­re­sta­tion. The original forest areas where the animals find food and mating part­ners are constantly decre­asing. For many animals, the search for food ends in death when they cross the plan­ta­tions and get too close to humans. But the problem is mainly long-term: the frag­men­ta­tion of the habitat results in the animals remai­ning within their original group only, causing a conti­nuously shrin­king gene pool. This is one of the main reasons for species extinc­tion. After all, greater biodi­ver­sity leads to more robust species that are more capable of adap­ting to the effects of climate change or dise­ases. That is why, in addi­tion to protec­ting the remai­ning nature reserves, it is parti­cu­larly important to connect the frag­mented habi­tats. Only then can we sustain­ably protect wild­life, preserve biodi­ver­sity and create a healthy environment.

Palmölplantage in Sabah, die in Wildtierkorridor umgewandelt wird

Former oil palm plan­ta­tions are being turned into rainforests

Karte vom künftigen Wildtierkorridor

The wild­life corridor will connect two protected areas

The wild­life corridor connec­ting two nature reserves

For several years, we have been doing just that in the Depart­ment of Sabah, an area of Borneo that belongs to Malaysia: we are buying up old oil palm plan­ta­tions and are rena­tu­ra­li­sing the rain­fo­rest. The project, which is co-financed by BOS, is crea­ting an appro­xi­m­ately 800-metre-wide wild­life passage between the Tabin and Kuamba nature reserves under the manage­ment of the RFF. “The aim is to trans­form these and other key areas back into near-natural rain­fo­rest. By doing so, they will connect valuable natural habi­tats as wild­life corri­dors before it will be too late for endan­gered species such as the oran­gutan, the banteng, the pygmy elephant and many others,” explains Robert Risch, project manager and board member of the RFF. To this end, the RFF has already acquired 65 hectares of forest and plan­ta­tion land in Sabah in order to inte­grate these into the neigh­bou­ring protected areas. This will create an area of around 200,000 hectares of conti­guous and protected rainforest.

8,000 tree seed­lings have already been planted

The proud record after one year: 8,000 seed­lings have already been planted on the first 50 hectares between Tabin and Kuamba. They were exclu­si­vely sourced from neigh­bou­ring forest areas and regional natural forests. Here, too, the focus is on biodi­ver­sity: So far, 32 diffe­rent tree species from 14 fami­lies have been planted in the future wild­life corridor. Around half of the seed­lings belong to the winged fruit family (lat. Dipte­ro­car­paceae), which account for up to 80 percent of the natural canopy in Borneo’s lowland rain­fo­rest. They are the back­bone of the original ecosystem and thus an important compo­nent of the ecolo­gical infra­struc­ture. Other tree species produce fruit for wild­life or improve soil quality by enri­ching it with nitrogen. Still others further the deve­lo­p­ment of a closed canopy. Self-recur­ring trees are included in the main­ten­ance process as well and contri­bute to the natural rege­ne­ra­tion of the forest. Addi­tio­nally created small water bodies and grass­lands will provide further habi­tats for wild­life such as bantengs, probo­scis monkeys, Storm´s stork, pygmy elephants, oran­gutans and many other species in the future. The goal is to create a wild­life oasis with the near-natural rain­fo­rest that comes as close as possible to the enormous diver­sity of Borneo’s original habitats.

Bornean elephants belong to the endan­gered species

Wild­life corridor connects oran­gutan habitats

The bantengs in the province of Sabah belong to the local rare species

The wild­life corridor — a project with a future

The local popu­la­tion also bene­fits from this project. From the begin­ning, resi­dents of a neigh­bou­ring village commu­nity have assisted in plan­ting the seed­lings and are taking care of their main­ten­ance. This ensures the long-term reha­bi­li­ta­tion of the habi­tats. In the long term, the new forest corridor is also expected to improve the water quality of the adja­cent rivers — and fish and shrimp farming are the main sources of income for the local fishing villages in this part of Malaysia. Thus, even­tually, ever­yone bene­fits from the rena­tu­ra­tion of the purchased oil palm areas: The animals, the people and the rainforest.

A clear path for orangutans

The project is set to grow further: the RFF and BOS are plan­ning to acquire addi­tional palm oil plan­ta­tions on Borneo and to convert them into near-natural rain­fo­rest as well. “Here in Sabah, we can make a very concrete contri­bu­tion to the conser­va­tion of wild­life such as oran­gutans, Bornean elephants, probo­scis monkeys, Malayan bears, wild cats and other endan­gered wild­life. What we have already achieved so far is a great success. By rena­tu­ra­ting former agri­cul­tural land into rain­fo­rest, we are laying an important buil­ding block as part of a compre­hen­sive stra­tegy to protect biodi­ver­sity. And espe­ci­ally in times of Corona, this is a step in the right direc­tion,” says Daniel Merdes, Mana­ging Director of BOS Germany.

A Life­line for Wild­life: Crea­ting a Corridor

We are trans­forming plan­ta­tions back into rainforests.

The habitat of the oran­gutan and many other rare species is dying, and with it, these unique crea­tures. Every day, vast areas of rain­fo­rest are destroyed for oil palm culti­va­tion. In Sabah, Borneo, we are now rever­sing this trend. We purchase palm oil plan­ta­tions and convert them back into thri­ving rainforests.

Sonja Wende

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Trans­pa­rent use of funds is a matter of course for us. In September 2013, we joined the a non profit initia­tive of Trans­pa­rency Inter­na­tional Germany and signed its decla­ra­tion of commitment.