W hen I joined global engineering firm SMEC in Indonesia I wasn’t expecting to get involved with a project aimed at helping the survival of orangutans in Kalimantan. I am delighted to say however, that this is one of the initiatives that The SMEC Foundation is actively involved in, having partnered with the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOS), a non-profit organisation dedicated to the conservation of the Bornean orangutan and its habitat.

In its first activity in Indonesia, The SMEC Foundation donated A$25,000 for replanting six hectares of tropical rainforest that were lost at the BOSF’s Samboja Lestari orangutan rehabilitation center in East Kalimantan during major forest fires in 2015. When the trees mature the forest will provide a safe haven for orangutans to learn essential survival skills prior to being released back into their natural environment.

Jeff Bost (Deputy Director, SMEC Indonesia Infrastructure Initiative) plants the first of 2,400 trees funded by the SMEC Foundation to reforest burnt area at Samboja Lestari Sanctuary.

Young orangutan is taught essential survival skills at Samboja Lestari  Sanctuary, prior to release back into its natural habitat.

Dr Jamartin Sihite (left), CEO of Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation , and Bill Sinclair, SMEC SEA 2 Regional Manager, launch the SMEC Foundation / BOS partnership.

BOS CEO Dr Jamartin Sihite described the main activities of the orangutan rehabilitation center as being orangutan rescue, translocation of orangutans from areas of conflict to areas of secure and protected habitat, the provision of welfare and healthcare, rehabilitation, reintroduction and forest restoration activities. He noted that Samboja Lestari works closely with local communities and schools on community development activities and outreach conservation education.

BOS has rescued hundreds of orangutans and currently cares for over 200 orangutans and 50 sunbears at Samboja Lestari. According to Dr Jamartin, “since 2012 we have released 270 orangutans into forests in East and Central Kalimantan. Yet we are still taking care and rehabilitating almost 700 in total, 200 in Samboja Lestari alone. This number of displaced orangutans is the direct impact of deforestation. Humans have been busy transforming good forests into plantations, mining areas, and much more. We still have more than 100 hectares in Samboja Lestari to replant due to the 2015 forest fires. It is time for us to take action to reforest destroyed areas. We have to restore what has been destroyed. The support we receive from SMEC is certainly proof that some people still care.”

I was privileged to be present at the ceremony to launch the SMEC/BOS partnership at the SMEC Indonesia office in Jakarta and hear Dr Jamartin’s inspiring presentation on the work of BOS in Indonesia and global efforts to protect orangutans. I am very much looking forward to visiting the Sanctuary to see at first hand the amazing work being done to help protect and conserve orangutans”.

Samboja Lestari welcomes volunteers (technical and non-technical) and eco-tourist visitors. For further details on the work of the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, check out their website: www.orangutan.or.id.

You can learn more about The SMEC Foundation here.

Bill Sinclair

Bill Sinclair

Regional Manager Southeast Asia (Indonesia) – An experienced Civil and Structural Engineer and Project Manager, Bill has a wealth of experience gained in a variety of roles in New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Pacific Islands. Bill is a strong advocate for the SMEC Foundation and the role it plays in supporting communities where SMEC operates.

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