The main aim of the Mawas project is the achievement of protected status of valuable peatlands through collaboration with the Central and Local Governments and the local communities.
The Mawas area is situated in Central Kalimantan. It is home to one of the last tracts of forest supporting wild orangutans. An estimated 3,000 wild orangutans and many other fauna and flora can be found in this area.
Not only is Mawas important for its biodiversity but the geological conditions of Mawas also make it a storage house of giga-tonnes of sequestered carbon. Over a period of 8,000 years, decaying plant matter from the swamp forests has built up 13 - 15 metre high domes of peat. The Mawas area holds an amount of carbon equal to roughly 30 years of Australia's green house emissions.
In September 2003, the provincial parliament in Central Kalimantan approved a new land use plan that designates 500,000 ha in the Mawas area to be managed by BOS for conservation. BOS is currently working in an area of about 280,000 ha within the ex-Mega Rice Project.
BOS has initiated a forest conservation project with the objectives of:
- conserving peat swamp forest area including reforesting degraded areas;
- preserving the bio-diversity of the area;
- providing global greenhouse gas (GHG) benefits;
- providing access to programs such as health and education; and
- improving incomes and building capacity and economic prosperity in local communities
The project is now in its development phase and will assist communities in learning technical skills including aquaculture, rice cultivation, agro forestry and farm development with a top priority being to deliver local independence and self-sustaining livelihoods.
The project will also provide education to children on the environment and conservation. Activities include visiting schools and providing community awareness programs as well as co-operative conservation programs.
The area is important for research activities with BOS operating the Tuanan Research Station in Kapaus. The Station has been implemented through extensive consultation with all local people and institutions and the use of local labour. Its purpose is to provide a year-round base to scientists tracking and observing the wild orangutan population.
BOS is also involved in patrolling and monitoring the area for illegal activities via air and land and supporting law enforcement by providing guidance and legal awareness programs to the community and government.
And finally, the challenge over the next couple of years is to establish long-term funding security for the project.