Over the past 50 days, the Eco Warriors associated with the DeforestACTION project have been hard at work supporting projects in Borneo, Indonesia that empower local communities to take action against deforestation and support orangutans who depend on rainforest ecosystems. I had the honor of visiting the Eco Warriors to see first-hand to how the online learning and fundraising support of youth and schools around the world has translated into real-life impact for communities in this region.
The Eco Warriors are working in four teams to raise awareness of the impacts of deforestation, and to take tangible steps to help them. The Education Team put together an educational theatre program that culminated in a series of presentations to schools in the West Borneo region. They have been promoting dialogue between students, teachers, and the Eco-Warriors about the important topics of deforestation, palm oil, and protecting wildlife such as the orangutan. So far they've presented to over 600 students, including attendees at a conference for educators and government leaders in the region.
The Reforestation Team has developed a nursery in the community of Tembak, taking factors into account, such as flood levels, shade versus sunlight, and accessibility. During my visit, they were preparing seedlings for planting. Additionally, the team intends to hold a workshop with the local kids about proper reforesting techniques, developing a sense of community, accomplishment, and ownership for the forests among the children of Tembak.
The Mapping Team has been flying to great heights! Their team flew an unmanned drone airplane over the village of Tembak, taking aerial video and still images of the community and surrounding areas. The data will help protect communities from encroaching palm oil plantations by viewing the area from a whole new angle. The team also intends on mapping other communities during their stay in Borneo, with the goal of empowering local people by providing them with accurate records of their land.
The Animal Rescue team has been working hard with the people of Tembak to create a release site for orangutans of the region. The community of Tembak has donated 63 hectares of land to act as a forest school where orangutans can be introduced to forest life. Tembak also has 20,000 hectares of protected forest where the orangutans can be released after graduating from forest school. The team has successfully built the observation hut for veterinarians and carers of newly released orangutans, as well as set up the cage and water tank.
For more information on how you and your students can get involved, visit www.deforestaction.org.
*Special thanks goes to co-author of this post, Eco-Warrior Mark Kuroski