Harapan Rainforest: The Site
Harapan Rainforest straddles the provinces of Jambi and South Sumatra. Initially covering approx. 52,000 hectares, the area is to expand to more than 102,000 hectares. This initiative by Burung Indonesia to protect and restore Harapan Rainforest, supported by the RSPB, BirdLife International, with support from BirdLife Partners, will make a major contribution to conserving Asian lowland rainforest, a unique habitat in the world.
How did we come to choose this site?
BirdLife International, since its formation in 1992, has run a programme to identify the world’s Important Bird Areas (IBAs). These are areas of particular importance for biodiversity, which are characterised by the presence of threatened and/or endemic birds.
Early on, BirdLife International and BirdLife's Indonesia Programme identified Asian lowland rainforests as being especially rich in birds and other wildlife. In the case of the dry lowland forests of central Sumatra, we recognised an area that was not only species-rich, but under severe threat from human development.
Burung Indonesia and supporting partners from BirdLife International assessed all the remaining lowland forest in Sumatra, using satellite maps and bird data. We shortlisted five forest blocks – management areas designated by the Ministry of Forestry – that held the greatest conservation promise. Finally, a more thorough analysis of the forest quality and coverage, species richness and accessibility led us to focus on this final site, known formally as the Tajau Pecah Lalan Kapas forest block. We decided to call it ‘Harapan’ Rainforest, meaning ‘hope’ in Indonesian. This signifies our collective hopes that we can stop Sumatra’s lowland forest from disappearing altogether and create an example for sustainable forestry management in Indonesia.
Harapan Rainforest includes some good-quality rainforest. It is sufficiently robust to provide habitat for a range of threatened forest-dependent bird species, such as the Rhinoceros Hornbill. Parts of Harapan Rainforest have already been degraded by previous logging operations, but they are regenerating rapidly. We expect that after several decades of conservation management, large portions of the forest will have regenerated to form rich wildlife habitat.
Once this happens, the project site will hold more than 10% of Sumatran lowland rainforest.
The site is already of global significance for biodiversity. As rainforest dwindles in other parts of Southeast Asia, this site will only become more important.
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