15 October 2014

We’ve already looked at how this year’s Go Orange campaign will restore orangutan habitat by planting and nurturing the trees they need to survive. Orangutans are umbrella species, large animals that require large areas of native forest to survive, so by acting to protect orangutans you will also protect many other species that share the same forest.

© M.D. Kapar –Hutan – KOCP

The forests of Borneo are home to some of the most unique and biodiverse species on the planet.  One survey found over 700 species of trees and vines in a ten hectare area.  That’s three times as many tree species as are found in the USA and Canada combined!

Borneo is also home to over 2000 species of orchid, 222 mammals, 420 birds, 100 amphibians and 394 fish.  Insects make up the greatest proportion of Borneo’s diversity; there can be as many as 1000 species in a single tree!  Even more amazing is that between 1995 and 2010 over 600 new species were discovered!  That’s 3 new species every month!

Even though the reforestation team at the Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Programme (KOCP) focused on only planting 30 species of tree, this will create the right conditions for the seeds of other important tree species, which have been lying dormant in the soil, to germinate and grow.  Other plant species will also spread from remaining fragments of native forest, often carried in the dung or fur of animals such as slow loris, tarsiers, langurs, gibbons, macaques, proboscis monkeys, hornbills, clouded leopard and sun bear.

These animals exist in isolated fragments of forest and many populations are too small to survive in the long term without the type of action taken by our conservation partner KOCP.  Reforesting degraded areas will not only create new habitat and provide additional food for these species but also allow them to disperse and mingle with other populations, preventing inbreeding.

Healthy forests also prevent rivers and lakes becoming polluted with sediment and run off from plantations so even freshwater animals will benefit from planting trees!  Borneo’s waterways are home to some of the world’s largest catfish, fish that breathe air, false gharials, soft-shelled turtles, terrapins and kingfishers.

Finally, planting trees will benefit an animal you probably haven’t thought of…humans!  Local communities rely on Borneo’s forests and rivers for their survival and many native species play an important role in traditional culture.  The destruction of these habitats leaves also destroys local communities resources and leaves then with few traditional livelihood choices available.

This year’s Go Orange campaign also benefits local communities directly, by providing employment propagating, planting and caring for seedlings, and indirectly by ensuring the health of Borneo’s native ecosystems.

Find out how to plant your own tree and support the survival of Borneo’s native species!

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