Economics of Orangutans
Indonesia is losing forests at the rate of half a million hectares a year, which is one of the highest rates in the world. The Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve, the largest REDD+ project in the world, works to preserve these forests and stop development.
What it does
Reducing deforestation is one of the biggest opportunities for cost efficient and immediate reduction of carbon emissions. This project is preserving 64,500 hectares of tropical peatland forest on the southern coast of Borneo, a rich ecosphere supporting flora, fauna and species including the endangered Bornean orangutan. The local government had previously approved this land for conversion to palm oil plantations, but the project helped local communities find a different solution. Local residents have adopted sustainable alternatives to slash-and-burn farming and now with better economic opportunities these forests are being guarded and carbon sequestered.
How it works
To be effective, forest conservation must be balanced with the economic well-being of local communities. This project achieves that balance by demonstrating that conservation can be environmentally and economically advantageous.
It engages communities and supports the local economy by creating jobs, offering alternative income streams, providing new co-ops, and micro-finance programs. The project also provides access to clean water, health services and education. Local communities have become motivated partners in forest preservation. This project is avoiding 4.5 million tonnes of carbon equivalent emissions every year, and is the largest REDD+ forestry project in the world in terms of emissions reduced. It is also Indonesia’s first officially sanctioned REDD+ project.
- Total CO2 emissions reduction for this project will exceed 130 million tonnes.
- The project addresses all 17 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals*.
- Preserves shelter for 300 species of birds, 122 species of mammals, and 180 species of trees and plants.
- The project created a women’s co-op for greater opportunity and community participation.
- There is continual commercial demand for agricultural land.
- It needs significant amount of local support to survive.
- Enforcement of forest protection requires constant vigilance.
- Rural poverty can still push farmers to illegal logging and slash-and-burn farming.
Who it helps
Planet Earth, by sequestering 4.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions every year. The endangered Borneo orangutan, by preserving an irreplaceable bio-habitiat. The people of Rimba Raya, by creating jobs and new small businesses. And people everywhere, by demonstrating that forest conservation can be done effectively and lastingly.
Why we chose this project
This uninhabited lowland peat swamp forest preservation and regeneration project offers strong biodiversity and community benefits that are unequalled by most forest projects we review. It is located in a part of the world that is under high stress from unregulated agricultural practices and is eminently threated by rising temperatures.
The project lands were scheduled to be converted to palm oil plantations as the Ministry of Forestry had declared (in 2011) that it was giving almost half of the project’s territory to a developer for palm oil development, but it was the effort by the project developers that helped overturn this decision and declare the area a protected reserve for many species including the Borneo Orangutans.
This project is particularly strong on financial additionality. A comprehensive financial (net present value or NPV) analysis was provided to substantiate the most profitable alternative (oil palm plantation) is the most likely project scenario. The project applied the highest and most conservative values based on the results of the NPV analysis, which showed that the NPV of oil palm production was 200% more than the project activity. The financial model was confirmed through review of materials that substantiate NPV assumptions including but not limited to literature sources, carbon credit value estimates, and commodity price change.
UN sustainable development goals
DrawdownDrawdown is the most comprehensive plan to reverse global warming; Economics of Orangutans relates to Solutions Number 15 and 17 – Afforestation and Tree Intercropping
Due diligence documents
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How we select our projects
We go the extra mile, or kilometer, to make sure each project’s carbon-cutting is effective, and the use of funds is efficient.
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