Posted on 08 April 2011
As a follow-up from last year’s campaign by the youth initiative Forest Friends, the first section of 106 hectares of critical habitat for the Sumatran tiger that had been deforested by illegal activity is being replanted with local tree species.
Pekanbaru, Indonesia — As a follow-up from last year’s campaign by the youth initiative Forest Friends, the first section of 106 hectares of critical habitat for the Sumatran tiger that had been deforested by illegal activity is being replanted with local tree species.
The first phase of replanting activities, covering 30 hectares, is taking place in Tesso Nilo National Park, on the island of Sumatra
in Indonesia from 29 March to 30 June 2011.
is an initiative targeted at 18- to 25-year-old youths using social networking tools. Under the initiative, three youths each from Indonesia and Germany were selected after an intense weeks-long selection to compete for fans and raise support for forest conservation through blogging.
Through Forest Friends, which is also accessible on Facebook, the youths communicate and share their views via articles, video and photo uploads. The blogging competition took place from May to August 2010, serving as an integral part of WWF’s Year of Tiger Campaign in 2010, which aimed at doubling wild tiger numbers by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger. At the end of the competition the youths had successfully raised support for replanting more than 100 hectares of land.
The winning team from the Forest Friends competition, Rima Putri Agustina (a 25-year-old from Indonesia) and Lena Gottschalk (a 20-year-old from Germany), visited the park from March 28 to April 2. Both initiated the planting of a variety of local tree species such as Shorea and Koompassia, joining WWF, the Tesso Nilo National Park authority, rangers, and the local community.
WWF-Indonesia will work with Tesso Nilo National Park authorities and local communities on management and monitoring of the replanted area.
“As one of the six Forest Friends finalists, I'm very happy and proud that so many young people became fans and supported our campaign," said Gottschalk. "I am so excited to have the opportunity to visit the park and be directly involved in the planting along with various partners on the ground."
The head of Tesso Nilo National Park authority, Drh. Hayani Suprahman, MSc, stated his support for the replanting efforts: “I appreciate the Forest Friends campaign for its contribution to biodiversity in Tesso Nilo National Park and our conservation work in the national park.”
Encroachment by local villagers, who clear the forest to plant crops or build settlements, is one of the major threats to the national park. To combat the threats, national park authorities conduct extensive patrols, along with partners such as WWF-Indonesia. The Tesso Nilo Patrol Team is actively involved in law enforcement and the socialization process, distributing information about encroachment threats to nature.
“The next crucial step is to replant and rejuvenate ecosystems in the encroached critical areas,” Suprahman added.
The Park, also a critical habitat for Sumatran tigers, was chosen as the replanting site because it has potential for long-term tiger conservation.
In addition to planting trees in Tesso Nilo, the Forest Friends winners experienced a day in the life of the WWF-Indonesia Tiger Research Team, rode through the jungle and went on patrol with the WWF Flying Squad’s elephants, in addition to visiting a traditional sustainable honey production operation in the nearby village area.
“One of the best things from the Forest Friends competition is to know that we will reforest and plant trees in such a huge area, which someday could be a safe haven for critically endangered Sumatran endemic species, and also for people who live around the forest," said Rima. "I do really hope that this effort works, so we never hear any more bad news about Sumatran forests."
As part of their activities during the trip, Rima and Lena made a jungle documentary that will be shared on the Forest Friends blog. It is hoped that the documentary will inspire other youth to give back to their environment, not only in Sumatra, but worldwide.
Sumatra's approximate tiger population numbers just 300, out of a total of only 3,200 for the highly endangered big cat.