Forest ecosystem restoration concession licence opens door for orangutan releases

BOS Foundation Press Release: 18 January 2011

The Indonesian Ministry of Forestry has issued the final permit for an Ecosystem Restoration Concession (ERC) to PT. Restorasi Habitat Orangutan Indonesia (PT. RHOI), paving the way for the eventual release of rehabilitated ex-captive orangutans into the area. PT. RHOI is a company founded by the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) for the express purpose of obtaining ex-logging forest concessions for ecosystem restoration. The newly acquired area is a 86,450 hectares former logging concession in Kutai Kartenegara District and Kutai Timur District, East Kalimantan.

A ceremony marking the finalization of the licensing process took place on Tuesday, 18 January from 11:00 to 2:00 pm in the Sonokeling Room 1, Manggala Wanabakti Building, Jl. Gatot Subroto, Senayan, Jakarta. The event was opened by Dr. E.G. Togu Manurung, CEO of BOS Foundation; Dr. Bungaran Saragih, Chairman of the  BOSF Board of Trustees; and Marzuki Usman, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of PT. RHOI.

The event was also attended by officials from the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry, members of  Commission IV of the Indonesian Parliament,  BOSF donors, local and international NGOs and corporate figures.  

“We have paid the full amount of the license fee for the concession area for the next 60 years”, said BOSF Board of Trustees Chairman Bungaran Saragih, noting that the process will now allow the BOSF to realize its mission of releasing ex-captive orangutans back to the wild. The BOSF has rescued and rehabilitated over a 1,000 ex-captive orangutans over the years, but its efforts to reintroduce them back to their natural environment have been hampered by a lack of suitable habitat.

“This is the realization of BOS Foundation's on-going commitment to conserve the natural habitat of Bornean orangutans,” said Togu Manurung, BOSF CEO, adding that only through conservation of habitat could the Bornean orangutan species be saved from extinction. “We thank everyone who donated to the cause of obtaining this concession license. It will have a real impact on the preservation not only of the forests, but the preservation of one of Indonesia’s iconic wildlife symbols, the orangutan.”

Natural orangutan habitat has been systematically destroyed over the years by logging, uncontrolled agricultural expansion and forest fires. The loss of habitat has forced orangutans into more populated areas where they face threats from poachers and illegal wildlife traders. Many end up captives of humans who illegal keep them as pets. Once rescued, these orangutans have to be re-trained in all the survival skills so that they can be reintroduced to the forest. This is a process that can take several years.

The BOSF is planning to begin releasing some rehabilitated orangutans into the newly acquired concession area from its East Kalimantan Orangutan Reintroduction Centre in Samboja Lestari sometime this year. The BOSF is also currently negotiating the acquisition of another ERC in Central Kalimantan for the eventual release of orangutans from its reintroduction centre in Nyaru Menteng, Central Kalimantan.