The rehabilitation of the area begins by planting shade trees, such as pioneer trees, which help to reduce and kill the alang-alang as well as reducing soil erosion, improving infiltration of water into the soil, slowing down the outflow of water from the area thereby preventing floods and keeping streams alive during dry seasons. The planting of climax species follows a year later when the pioneer trees, just like in the patches of regenerating rain forest, have recreated a suitable microclimate with light shade and better humidity that these original rain forest species need. Rehabilitation activities include field maintenance such as weeding, hoeing, fertilizing, mulching, thinning, pruning, etc.
A total area of 159 hectares, located in the centre of Samboja Lestari, has been allocated for the establishment and development of an arboretum, a huge scientific tree garden twice the size of the famous Bogor botanical garden, in which some 5,000 indigenous tree species and sub-species of Borneo will be planted, along with many other smaller plants. The purpose of the development of this botanical garden is to make a collection of indigenous tree species, to facilitate research especially on the growth and development and phenology (flowering) of the species, and to facilitate environmental education programs for the local communities as well as for school children and older students. Inside the Kukar botanical garden (named after the district in which Samboja Lestari is located) we will also preserve the superior trees that were selected over 20 years of forestry research in East-Kalimantan. Some of these tree are now now the only ones left in Samboja Lestari are extinct in the wild.
Orangutan Reintroduction Program
The Orangutan Reintroduction Project at Wanariset has moved to Samboja Lestari. Several Forest Schools have already been established. Forest Schools are areas that will provide natural, educational playgrounds for the orangutans in which to learn forest skills. Here they will roam freely (but supervised) and be returned to sleeping cages for the night. There is a brand new Clinic and Quarantine area as well as many new forest cages for larger orangutans and a Babies Room for the little ones.
Moving the Wanariset Orangutan Reintroduction Project to Samboja Lestari is only the beginning of what we hope to develop here. The plan is to create a wildlife sanctuary not only for orangutans but for other species as well and provide them with a safe haven with abundant natural foods from rain forest trees. The sanctuary area will be used to house orangutans that can never be released, such as blind or other severely disabled orangutans (missing limbs, epilepsy, stroke, Down syndrome, hospitalismus, etc.) as well as other disenfranchised animals. In addition Samboja Lestari has already established 6 Orangutan Islands, covering a total area of 6.52 hectares, with feeding sites and extra enrichment for a special class of chronically ill orangutans that otherwise would have to spend the rest of their lives in cages (the Islands currently hold a small population of Hep B orangutans). Many more islands will be established, where more orangutans and other wildlife that cannot be returned to the wild can live under almost completely natural conditions.
Sun Bear Sanctuary
Expanding on our wildlife sanctuary promise, the Sun Bear Sanctuary covers a total area of 58 hectares inside Samboja Lestari. It is fenced in by electric wiring and divided into several compartments to accommodate bears of different ages and sex. The sun bears have their own team that monitors their behaviors, diet and behavioral enrichment needs. Sun bears are brought in from all over Indonesia, confiscated from the trade (people use their gall bladders, claws, teeth, skin, skulls and paws) or from people who kept them as a status symbol or handed over by people voluntarily.
The Samboja Lestari Program participates strongly in community development through a wide range of activities including providing employment within our various projects, giving opportunities to the local community by involving them in agro-forestry practices (people are allowed to grow fruits and vegetables in between the newly planted trees in Samboja Lestari and sell part of them to the project) and providing training on skills such as making handicrafts produced from Samboja Lestari’s waste wood. BOS helps sell these items around the world to create many more environmentally friendly local jobs for what was until recently the poorest district in East-Kalimantan.
Through these activities the local community has begun to understand and appreciate the benefits of maintaining and protecting their forest environment and in return support the many efforts of Samboja Lestari. One good indicator: Thanks to the firefighting teams with the local people BOS Samboja Lestari has not lost a single tree to fire!
The parameters for social well-being we are using (through a local NGO helping BOS assessing the socio economic impacts of our work) are amongst others the jobless rate, the crime rate and the people’s general health condition. Since the regeneration activities began in Samboja Lestari, the village of Samboja has decreased its unemployment rate dramatically thereby increasing the average income level of the area. Local crime which was high, has disappeared. The number of hospital visits is steadily decreasing. If only we could measure the quantity of smiles BOS is generating!
Some parts of Samboja Lestari are reserved as tree research areas. Research topics include: the growth and comparisons of different tree species, hydrology, meteorology, plant physiology, species site matching, space based monitoring, etc.