Editor’s Note: This article is contributed by Desiree Tay, a Year 2 NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine student and a first-time Project Sukacita participant. When I first received...
Restorasi Ekosistem Riau (RER) has started a forest restoration exercise in Sumatra, with the planting of 2 million trees.
The RER project was launched in 2013 under a restoration licence granted by Indonesia’s government. The aim of the project was to revitalise the landscape, create sustainable lifestyles for the local forest communities and to establish a replicable model to safeguard the environment of the Kampar Peninsula. (See media coverage – Papnews)
RER is the successful partnership between businesses and environmentalists, which started in 2013 to help eco-restoration in the Kampar Peninsula in Sumatra’s Riau Province. These include Fauna & Floral International (FFI), BIDARA and APRIL, a company under RGE founded by Sukanto Tanoto.
APRIL, Asia’s second-largest pulp and paper manufacturer has contributed $17 million towards RER’s forest restoration exercise, while FFI provides restoration management support, especially in the adoption of Climate, Community & Biodiversity Standards. Community Resources Development Institute (BIDARA) is an Indonesian social equity consultancy which advises on social issues.
The main objective of this forest restoration exercise was to revitalise 20,265 hectares of peat forest across the Straits of Malacca from Singapore. RER aims to restore forests which have been seriously damaged by logging, encroachment and forest fires. Nearly 1,500 trees were planted during today’s ceremony, witnessed by Indonesia’s Minister of Forestry and local villagers.
More than 2.1 million trees – native species collected from seeds within the reserve and nurtured by locally hired employees in RER’s field nursery– will be planted over the next 10 years.
“We’re excited by what we’ve started here today,” said Dr. Tony Whitten, a member of the Advisory Board for Restorasi Ekosistem Riau (RER) and Regional Director, Asia-Pacific for international NGO Fauna & Flora International who has spent 40 years working for conservation in Sumatra. “And we’re committed to seeing this effort through to the finish.”
Experts say forest restoration will improve wildlife habitat for vulnerable species on the Kampar Peninsula. A biodiversity audit planned this year is expected to reveal the variety and number of animals living within RER’s reserve areas.