Posted by: masaranghk | January 25, 2012

Saving Indonesia’s Forests and Primates

The Crown Princess of Yogyakarta, The Princess Gusti Kanjen Ratu Pembayun and Dr. Willie Smits spoke on Thu 19 January at the Royal Geographical Society lecture on “Saving Indonesia’s Forests and Primates”.

The Crown Princess of Yogyakarta The Princess Gusti Kanjen Ratu Pembayun and Dr. Willie Smits

In the lecture, the Crown Princess, head of the Yogyakarta Nature Conservation Foundation, spoke about the ongoing drive to save Indonesia’s forests and primates, in particular in Borneo.  The Foundation runs a large animal rescue and environmental education centre near Yogyakarta.  The Princess’s work has a particular emphasis on educating youth about the environment, especially though the DeforestAction, a charity which is connecting 10 million children with efforts to save Borneo’s forests and primates.

Dr. Smits, who previously lectured at the Society has been working in the Indonesian jungles for over 30 years, especially on reforestation.  Dr. Smits talked about the primates of Borneo, including orangutans, and the challenges they are facing to survive in a shrinking and fragmented forest environment.  Dr. Smits also spoke about the issues of saving the forests themselves, to conserve entire ecosystems.

The Foundation runs a large animal rescue and environmental education center near Yogyakarta. The center is planning the construction of the orangudome, the world’s most advanced facility for study of orangutan behavior for those orangutans that cannot be returned to the wild. The center will feature many innovative designs that provide visitors a non intrusive view of the orangutan live in the giant open dome where orangutans are provided with choices to decide where to go with what other orangutans and to interact through games that enrich their lives with people around the world.

The orangudome is part of the DeforestAction project to connect 10 million children with on the ground work for saving Borneo’s forests and the orangutans using 21st century learning skills and techniques.  Dr. Smits also addressed sustainability issues in relation to the indigenous Dayak people who inhabit most of Borneo, who are also dependent on the forests.  He spoke of the issues of forest ecology and forest restoration.  This includes not just how to make forests into sustainable sun energy capture devices, but also how approaches, involving mixed sugar palm forests and agroforestry, might be a solution to dealing with climate change.

The following day Dr. Smits visited the orangutans in the HK Zoological and Botanic Gardens.  See the interview he gave with the South China Morning Post

Saving Orangutans from South China Morning Post on Vimeo.


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